Archive for June 2010

Regarding Sunscreens - Moms don't always know best


I am a 40-year-old mother with two children, one age seven and the other 10 years old. It has been very hot and sunny this summer with frequent visits to the pool and no school for the kids. Some mothers are claiming sunscreens are not effective and may even be harmful. That does not make common sense to me, but mothers are experts in most areas. Should I stop using sunscreen on my family?


There is no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer. There have been no studies to test the statement. However, they definitely help prevent sunburn and skin aging caused by the sun. Can you imagine being in the group without UV protection to see how many skin cancers you can develop? In clinical practice, every dermatologist has seen a decrease in sun damage, pre-skin cancers, and skin cancers in patients who regularly use sunscreen protection.

Every dermatologist also recommends smart sun exposure; that is, avoiding the noon-day sun and wearing protective clothing. There are more high SPF products than ever before; but there is no proof that they are better, as SPF 30 absorbs about 95-96% of the UVB rays, and an SPF 50 absorbs 98-99% of the UVB rays. It should be clear that an SPF above 50 provides very little additional protection. If this is misleading to the consumer, so be it; but it does not mean that they are not getting the benefit of a sunscreen. Sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours with sun exposure, and patients should still avoid noon-day sun and use protective clothing when possible.

There is no perfect sunscreen. Pick your sunscreen wisely. Read the label of active sunscreen ingredients. Remember the following guidelines:

· The ingredients which block UVB rays are well documented by SPF values, however, UVA protection is more difficult to measure

· Many of the chemical UVA blockers are somewhat unstable

· Patients should look for sunscreens which contain the mineral or physical blockers zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both which come in clear, micronized formulations.

Mothers have a lot of information, but when it comes to sun protection, trust your dermatologist.

Poison Ivy - Don't Pass It On!


I am a 42-year-old housewife, and I have poison ivy that I am blaming on my husband. He worked in the yard Sunday morning; and when he showered, left his clothes on the bathroom floor. Well, guess who picked up his poison ivy clothes and put them in the washing machine? He said I blame him for everything; and you cannot get poison ivy from his yard clothes, even if covered with poison ivy oil. Is it possible that my husband is correct for the first time in our 18 years of marriage?


No, it is not possible that he is correct. Poison ivy and its relatives, poison sumac and poison oak, contain a potent poison ivy oil called urushiol. It is the most common allergic contact rash and can occur at any age. It takes direct contact to develop the allergic rash. Direct contact can result from contact with the leaves or vines; however, it can become airborne with trimming, mowing or burning poison ivy plants.

The oil is very stable and can easily survive on unwashed clothing that has come in contact with poison ivy. Poison ivy oil is destroyed by soap and water, whether on the body in the shower or on clothing in the washing machine. The solution, in your case, would be for your husband to take yard clothing off and place it in the washing machine, then take a shower with soap and water. If the poison ivy oil touched his skin, the sooner he washes with soap and water the better. Remember, poison ivy rashes can develop within 24 hours or as late as 10 days after the exposure.

The red, itchy, and/or blistering rash of poison ivy is not contagious. You can treat the poison ivy rash with cool compresses, oral Benadryl or other antihistamines for the itching and applying over-the-counter cortisone cream or calamine lotion. Severe cases of poison ivy require a visit to the dermatologist. There are prescription medications and injections available to treat cases of poison ivy. In the future, your husband will learn that perhaps hiring someone to do the yard work is less aggravation in the long run.

Rx Systems PF Launches Acne Control Kit

Rarely will you find me just tooting my own horn on my blog posts, but I am extremely proud and excited about our Acne Control Kit, which has recently been launched. For details regarding this skin care treatment, read through the press release below. If you or someone you know and care about has a problem with mild to moderate acne, please consider the Rx Systems PF Acne Control Kit. I have every confidence it will be of benefit.

Rx Systems PF® Launches Multi-Ingredient

Acne Control Kit/Clear Skin System

Dermatologist-formulated products utilize synergistic effect of three anti-acne ingredients

(St. Louis, MO – June 2, 2010) - Acne is recognized as a multi-factorial disease that requires clinical finesse and a multifaceted approach to therapy. Formulated and tested by a board-certified dermatologist, the new ACNE CONTROL KIT/CLEAR SKIN SYSTEM from Rx Systems PF® utilizes three scientifically advanced, acne-fighting ingredients synergistically combined to effectively reduce and prevent acne and acne rosacea.

“Most acne treatment programs contain a single active ingredient, such as benzoyl peroxide. It should be evident that using several active ingredients, which work together to address the various causes of acne, produce better and faster results,” said Dr. Lawrence Samuels, Rx Systems PF founder and Chief of Dermatology at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO. “Rx Systems PF has created a unique ACNE CONTROL KIT/CLEAR SKIN SYSTEM designed to control acne and acne rosacea by utilizing the synergistic effect of three anti-acne ingredients - salicylic acid, azelaic acid and elemental sulfur. These ingredients when used together address the multitude of factors that cause acne in all ages.”

Acne is a common skin disorder that affects at least 85 percent of adolescents and young adults to some degree. Research shows that a large number of women 25 years or older have acne that remains constant until age 44, at which time there is a decrease in the incidence of acne. Acne affects individuals of both genders and all ethnic groups. Acne rosacea is a type of acne that increases in incidence with age after 30 years old and is characterized by patches of reddened acne on the cheeks and central face.

“Our Acne Control Kit/Clear Skin System is scientifically formulated to prevent abnormal epidermal cell growth, normalize and enhance skin exfoliation at the opening of the pore, kill the bacteria in the pore, reduce inflammation, control excessive oil production and heal active lesions to prevent acne scarring,” according to Dr. Samuels.


· ACNE CONTROL CLEANSER contains the active ingredient salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is an organic, plant-derived ingredient. The cleanser causes skin cells to shed more rapidly preventing pores from clogging and allowing space for new cell growth to help reduce and prevent blackheads. The acne control cleanser is designed to cleanse, exfoliate and prepare the skin to make other anti-acne ingredients more effective.

· ACNE CONTROL LOTION contains azelaic acid. Azelaic acid is a natural, plant-derived prescription product used in the treatment of acne. In lower concentrations, it can be obtained without a prescription, and when combined with other anti-acne products, can eliminate acne and discoloration.

· ACNE SPOT TREATMENT contains micronized, elemental sulfur. The concentration of the elemental sulfur intensifies its antibacterial effect and its ability to eliminate active acne lesions without irritation to the skin.

It is recommended that individuals with mild to moderate acne use the Acne Control Cleanser up to twice a day, followed by the Acne Control Lotion applied to all acne-prone areas in the evening. The Acne Spot Treatment should be applied in the morning to active acne lesions as needed. The ACNE CONTROL KIT/CLEAR SKIN SYSTEM can be used with Rx Systems PF’s other skin care systems and facial treatments to address other skin problems.

“Patient expectations are a critical step when initiating therapy for acne or acne rosacea,” said Dr. Samuels. “Realistic expectations and timelines for improvement will encourage patients to use the products properly and consistently. Typically mild acne or acne rosacea will improve 30-50 percent in 12 weeks and 60 percent or better by 26 weeks. Moderate acne or acne rosacea will improve 20-40 percent in 12 weeks and 50 percent or better by 26 weeks. The treatment of acne vulgaris and acne rosacea are a long-term process that must be individualized for each patient, but initial treatment can begin with the Acne Control Kit/Clear Skin System.”

Large, Brown Spots - Cancer or Something Else?


I am 35 years old and went to the pool with my daughter and my mother (who is 59, but do not tell anyone else); and yes, we put sunscreen on an hour before we went to the pool. At the house, I put sunscreen on my mother’s back; and she had many large, brown, rough growths with irregular shapes. I was very concerned that they were cancer, but she told me her doctor said they were of no medical concern. Should she see a dermatologist?


It is not likely that your mother has many large skin cancers on her back that a physician would feel are of no concern. Most patients with skin cancer generally have one or very few at any one time. There are skin growths called “seborrheic keratosis” that are quite common, harmless, and appear during adult life. As time goes by, individuals tend to get more growths; and the older seborrheic keratosis get larger, and many get thicker and rougher to the touch. They can occur on both covered and uncovered parts of the body, but tend to be larger in size on the body. They tend to be a genetic trait and are not caused by the sun. They do not become malignant, and their change in size and color are harmless. The difficulty for many patients is they can have benign seborrheic keratosis and the pre-cancerous actinic keratosis, which have the potential to develop into a skin cancer. I feel that most patients with a history of sun exposure and several skin growths warrant an exam by a dermatologist.

Obviously, seborrheic keratois can be unsightly; and some patients complain of itching, irritation from clothing, and bleeding from accidental trauma. They can be removed in the office utilizing different treatments based on the number and size of the seborrheic keratosis, generally with minimal discomfort.

Mole Patrol


I am a 42-year-old mother with a 17-year-old son who rarely wears sunscreen. Over the Memorial Day weekend, while at the pool, I noticed some moles on his back that concerned me. His comment was the typical teenage boy remark, “They have been there all my life, and don’t bother me.” Is it wrong to be a concerned mother, and should he see the dermatologist?


Moles can appear anywhere on the body, but tend to be more numerous above the waist than below the waist. Most people have no moles at birth. Moles present at birth, and in the first few months of life, tend to be larger than 6 mm (the diameter of a pencil eraser) and may have dark hairs. These moles are called congenital nevi or birth marks. Acquired moles, that is, moles that appear after the first year of life, tend to be smaller than or equal to 6 mm in diameter, symmetrical, and even in color. Acquired moles can appear until age 55 or 60 years of age.

Moles will vary in size and shape, and the number of moles an individual develops during his or her lifetime is an inherited trait. Moles do have an independent growth potential, but, again, rarely are larger than a pencil eraser. Most moles are flat and some shade of brown. With time, many will slightly enlarge and certainly grow in proportion to one’s body size. As years pass, many moles will slightly raise and some will develop hairs, although some will not change at all. If there is concern that a mole has changed (bleeding, begun to itch or hurt or developed irregular borders), becomes larger than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser) or develops irregular color, it should be examined by a dermatologist.

The vast majority of moles are benign and will never be a threat to the health of a person, although some have cosmetic concerns. Therefore, it is best to get medical attention if you notice a “mole” that does not follow the expected pattern. An initial exam by a dermatologist may be able to assure you that the mole is harmless and could encourage your son to use sunscreen to prevent problems in the future.

If there is concern regarding a mole, there is a simple test called a biopsy, which allows microscopic evaluation of the mole to determine a diagnosis. It is important to remember that moles present a variety of appearances. They may be skin-colored to pink, tan to brown or even blue to black, but usually have an even color in a single mole. They may be round to oval, flat to raised, have hairs or not. If the appearance of a mole worries you or if one changes suddenly, seek evaluation by a dermatologist sooner, rather than later.