Dermatology Q & A

Below are our archive of questions and answers in Dermatology.

Question 6/13/2002: I've been battling "cradle cap" with my 8 month old granddaughter.  I've tried mineral oil and scrubbing her head and I still have a problem.  Any solutions?
Answer: Cradle cap is another name for seborrheic dermatitis that affects the scalp. You have been trying all the right treatments but there are others.  I would avoid "scrubbing" her scalp and the mineral oil works better if left on over night.  Also there are some shampoos that can be helpful.  Look for dandruff shampoos containing zinc pyrithione or selenium sulfide.  If these do not bring results see your doctor for prescription treatments.

Question 6/11/2002: What cause a person to have cysts on the body, my mother has the same problem and they leave terrible scars.
Answer: Cysts can have multiple origins.  It depends on the type of cyst you develop as to how they are treated.  The most common type of cyst is called an epidermal cyst.  This forms from the sebaceous glands that are associated with hair follicles.  Treatment of these is usually surgical.  However, they can sometimes be injected with some success.  You should probably be evaluated by a skin specialist.

Question 6/3/2002: Skin discoloration: I am an African American female and I'm overweight.  My neck has been the darkest area of my body since I was 8 years old.  My family said I inherited this condition from them.  My neck is the color BLACK, and the rest of my body is the color of brown sugar.  Will prescription strength hydroquinone help?  Or is there some other medication I can use?

Answer: The condition you describe is known as Acanthosis Nigricans.  It is a darkening of the skin, especially about the neck, armpits and groins.  It can occur in other areas as well.  The skin thickens and darkens.  This condition is found in all races.  However in African Americans it is most commonly seen in people that are over weight.  These people may also have a tendency to develop problems with blood sugar.  The hydroquinones can be tried but you probably will be disappointed with the results.  The best way to manage the problem is to lose weight.  Of course that is also the hardest thing for most people to do.  You should have yourself checked for diabetes by your physician.  If you do not have this, losing weight is a great way to make sure you never develop diabetes.

Question 5/25/2002: My son is four years old and he had a rash that broke out only on the back of his arms, the calves of his legs, and on the lower part of his stomach. He had a high fever along with this. He started to itch the spots where the rash was at and tiny white bumps. I took him to the family doctor and he told me that he was more or less allergic to the sun. He called this reaction solar urticaria. Is this correct?
Answer: While there is a condition known as solar urticaria I am unable to tell you if this is your son's problem. Solar urticaria is a type of hives that occurs after exposure to sunlight. The rash generally goes away within several hours after the sunlight is removed. If this does not match up with his symptoms you should probably have him evaluated by a dermatologist. NEA Dermatology Clinic - (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 5/14/2002: I have very coarse hairs growing on my chin, but only in 2 small patches on my chin. These 2 areas stay red all the time, probably due to irritation, because I pluck the hairs. Sometimes the coarse get ingrown, leaving what looks like a big pimple. What could be the cause of this and what can I do to correct it.
Answer: You mention two problems: unwanted hair growth and skin eruptions related your treatment of this hair. As for unwanted hair growth there are several options for treatment including plucking, shaving, electrolysis and laser hair removal. You should not use chemical depilatories (hair remover) on your face at any time. As for the skin irritation, you should stop plucking and picking at these areas and let them heal. Once the skin is calmed down you should consider a different method of hair removal such as electrolysis or laser hair removal. If the skin eruption does not improve or if you have excessive hair growth, you should see your personal physician or a dermatologist. NEA Dermatology Clinic - (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 5/13/2002: I am having a problem with my eyelashes. They continue to fall out & grow back out in certain areas. The lower part of my upper eyelid stays puffy. The area at the bottom of the lash gets what looks like dandruff. When the lash starts to fall out it becomes sticky & long. I've gone to an eye doctor who sent me for a thyroid test. It came back negative. I sometimes flush on the cheek & nose. My ears use to get red & hot on the top. My palms get hot sometimes.
Answer: You have described several symptoms, which sound as if they represent different problems. The eyelash loss and dandruff condition sounds like a condition known as seborrheic dermatitis. It is treatable with prescription medications. The flushing and redness of the cheeks, nose and ears sounds like the condition known as Rosacea. It too is treatable with prescription medications. Both conditions really should be seen by a physician to be diagnosed. You should visit your physician or a dermatologist for definitive evaluation and therapy. NEA Dermatology Clinic - (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 5/8/2002: I am in good health and not overweight. I can bathe twice daily and still get a tremendous body odor when going outdoors (even in the winter). I eat decent and drink approximately the amount of liquids needed daily. What can I do? It is so embarrassing.
Answer: Malodorous sweating, also known as bromidrosis, is a problem usually associated with the axillary (arm pit) region of the body. It can have many causes most of which are treatable. You should be seen by a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. NEA Clinic - (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 4/17/2002: I have a real embarrassing problem. It doesn't matter if it is hot or cold, I sweat. I am embarrassed to wear shirts that fit too snug because I sweat through under my arms. I have had this problem since I was a teenager. Is there anything I can do? I haven't been able to find anything that works.
Answer: Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhydrosis can be a very big problem. It can occur almost anywhere on the body, the most common areas being the palms, soles, underarms and groin. There are several options regarding treatment for this problem. The easiest to try is a prescription antiperspirant called Drysol. It is available through a prescription from your physician. Another treatment is the use of a device known as a Drionic machine that is available without a prescription and can be purchased over the Internet ( I would recommend a visit to your physician or a dermatologist for evaluation.
NEA Dermatology Clinic - (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 4/5/2002: I have very dark circles under my eyes, how well does the bleaching cream work at getting rid of the circles, do you have to get a prescription for it from a dermatologist, or does he have to apply it to the skin in the doctor's office?
Answer: Dark circles under the eyes are very difficult to treat. In fact the best treatment is to use cosmetics to camouflage the areas. Fading creams or bleaching creams can be used and sometimes are effective. There are fading creams available without a prescription that can be purchased at cosmetic counters. There are also prescription products available only through your doctor's office or a dermatologist. These are treatments you use daily and they fade the pigmentation. However, once you stop using the medication the pigmentation returns.
NEA Clinic Dermatology - (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)

Question 4/2/2002: What are the symptoms of a skin cancer spreading through the body?
Answer: Most skin cancers do not spread through the body. The most common skin cancer is called a basal cell carcinoma. It very rarely spreads (metastases) to any other part of the body, but will continue to grow locally until treated adequately. The second most common skin cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma. It generally does not spread either although it possible. The third most common skin cancer is called a malignant melanoma. This is usually a very darkly pigmented skin lesion that can spread. The symptoms consist mainly of new dark lesions appearing in the skin next to or distant from the original cancer. If the melanoma spreads unchecked its symptoms become the same as any cancer that spreads through the body. If you think that you may have a cancer please make an appointment with your personal physician to be evaluated. If you think you have a skin cancer you should see a dermatologist.
NEA Clinic Dermatology - (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 3/20/2002: I have white spots on my arms and I want to get rid of them, so what can I do?
Answer: The treatment for your condition would rest upon a firm diagnosis. White spots may represent several possible conditions. You should see your personal physician or a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.
NEA Clinic - (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 3/20/2002: Is it possible for me to become allergic to the sun and why?
Answer: True allergy to the sun's rays is rare. However people can develop eruptions from sun exposure due to medications or chemicals with which they come into contact or consume. The problem is due to an interaction of sunlight with the chemical. Remove the chemical and the problem resolves. Also some people develop a condition known as polymorphous light eruption, which can be unrelated to chemicals or medications. Usually noted in the springtime it is more common in women and in the first 3 decades of life. Solar urticaria is a type of hives some people develop when exposed to the sun. It too is more common in women and is usually seen between 20-40 years of age. The reasons for developing these last two conditions are unknown but treatment is available. If you think you have a problem like this you should be seen by your doctor or a dermatologist. NEA Clinic - (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/26/2002: In between the last two toes on one of my feet is a spot (like a sore) that is like a circle with a hole in the middle. I have been using antibacterial salve on it and it doesn't hurt anymore, but what could this be and could wearing tight shoes cause it in the first place?
Answer: It is difficult to give an accurate diagnosis based on your description of your foot ailment. However, my first impression would be to say you have developed a corn (also known as a clavus). The ointment you are using will help but will not cure the problem. Definitive treatment should be available from your regular physician or you can visit a dermatologist. Tight fitting shoes are the start of many foot problems including corns. You should always were shoes that have plenty of room in the toe box. One quick test for your shoes is to trace the outline of your bare foot on a piece of paper. Then place your shoe for that foot over the tracing. If you can see the tracing with the shoe on top then you'll know your shoes are probably too tight.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/24/2002: My son, who will be 3 in April, is losing his hair. I recently noticed it while giving him his bath. I first thought it was from his haircut, but it happened a week after his haircut too. By losing his hair I don't mean just a little, it is like something coming out of my husband's head.
Answer: Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can have multiple causes. Some are completely natural and nothing to be concerned about and others are signs of possible health problems. You should have your son examined by his doctor or pediatrician.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/21/2002: What do you suggest for toenail fungus? I have tried Lamisil and Penlac to no avail.
Answer: There are nail problems that can mimic a fungal infection and nail fungus can be very difficult to treat. First I would recommend you confirm that you actually have a fungal infection as that other nail problems can look very much like a fungal infection yet will not respond to anti-fungal therapy. To confirm the infection you should have the nail cultured by your physician. I would wait for any further therapy until the infection has been proven by culture. You might also consider an evaluation by a dermatologist. Dermatologists specialize in problems involving the skin and nails. NEA Dermatology Clinic (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 2/21/2002: Can the sebaceous cyst be treated?
Answer: A sebaceous cyst is most effectively treated by surgical removal. The entire cyst sac should be removed to prevent possible recurrence. Many different types of physicians can remove these cysts and I would advise you to see your personal physician for a recommendation.
NEA Dermatology Clinic (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 2/8/2002: What makes fingernails peel, crack down the middle and not grow?
Answer: One of the most common causes of fingernail problems is a generalized drying of the nails. A dry nail will split, crack and break easily. The drying can be from many sources, such as: frequent water exposure, excessive use of nail polishes or nail hardeners, or the use of artificial nails. The treatment of this condition is aimed at restoring the hydration of the nail plate. There are other possible causes of these types of nail disturbances. To know for sure you should seek medical evaluation from your family doctor or a dermatologist.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/5/2002: What causes Dyshidrosis? How can it be cured?
Answer: Dyshidrosis, also known as Pompholyx or vesicular palmar eczema, is a type of hand and foot dermatitis the cause of which is unknown. It is characterized by clear, itchy "tapioca-like" vesicles, which can later lead to fissures, scaling and thickening of the skin. There is no cure. Treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms and clearing the rash. It is often a chronic, recurrent condition.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/5/2002: My husband scraped his leg on a staircase over 1 year ago. It stays red and irritated all the time. What could be causing the problem?
Answer: A persistent skin change as you describe could represent several conditions. Without seeing your husband it is impossible to tell you exactly the nature of his condition. However several possibilities come to mind. The first is a condition called lichen simplex chronicus, which could start from an injury and then by continued rubbing of the area cause a persistent change in the skin. Another is psoriasis, which can appear in areas of skin injury. Or perhaps he has a persistent infection in the area. Or it may be none of these. He should definitely be seen by his personal physician soon.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/5/2002: What is the name of the little bumps around the vagina and anus that have no pore and can become sore at times (as described by gynecologist). I want to look them up on the Internet. Thank you.
Answer: It sounds like you are describing a sebaceous cyst. This is a sweat gland that becomes blocked-up resulting in a secondary infection.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 2/4/2002: Hi, I have noticed my arms have blue in them and around my ankles. My neck and face are red and so are my feet. I have some aches and pains down my legs sometimes. My right pinky and other finger get a little numb. I have checked my blood pressure and it was normal. It showed a little high before. I have dry skin, its really bad on my face and scalp. I would really like it if you knew or could tell me what you think this could be. I have never seen my arms, elbows, and ankles get a blue color.
Answer: Without actually seeing the changes you describe it is difficult to give you an answer. Several possible conditions come to mind while reading your descriptions. The bluish discoloration is often seen in the areas you indicated and is usually normal. The redness and dry skin on your face and scalp could be several things including a common condition called seborrheic dermatitis. It is easily treated. The numbness you describe is probably not related to your skin problems. I strongly recommend you see your personal physician soon and possibly a dermatologist as well if your doctor can't help you with your skin problems.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 1/30/2002: Does any of your staff perform hair transplants? If not, do you know of any local offices in the state or surrounding states that do?
Answer: No one on our clinic staff performs hair transplantation surgery at this time. I do not know of any local hair transplant surgeons. A search of the Internet listed several sites that could help in you search. I would recommend as a good choice for your search. NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 1/15/2002: My husband, my son and myself have the same symptoms. We have been trying to get the right answers for years and still no answer. We need to get advice on it. My husband had these symptoms before we married; they are white bumps on his penis, complete body rash, itching severely, muscle and body aches. My son now has a warty looking bump on his lip and has itching, rash and gets wheezing spells. I have all the same signs except for wheezing. We need answers please. What kind of doctor should we see?
Answer: First you need to be seen by a dermatologist, since the skin lesions seem to be the primary finding. It may be that the skin lesions have nothing to do with the systemic complaints. If that is the case then you need to see either a family practice physician or an internist.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 1/7/2002: I have dry, scaly patches of skin on both my legs. I just wondered what it was and how this problem can be treated.
Answer: Dry scaly skin can be a sign of more than one condition. The first thing that comes to mind is psoriasis, but this could also be: eczema, xerosis, benign lichenoid keratosis, stucco keratosis, seborrheic keratosis and ichthyosis or other conditions. The treatments for these conditions are not the same and you need to have your condition diagnosed before therapy can be suggested. You should see your doctor or a dermatologist for a complete evaluation and treatment.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)


Question 1/3/2002: Who should I see about an allergic reaction to hair color, a dermatologist or allergist & can you recommend someone?
Answer: Allergic reactions that involve the scalp should be seen by a dermatologist. There are several dermatologists in the area. Dr. James Towry is the dermatologist associated with NEA Clinic.
NEA Clinic (870) 934-3530 (for appointment)


Question 1/2/2002: What is the best shampoo to use for head lice and is there a shampoo good to use to keep from getting it in the future.
Answer: The best shampoos to use are prescription shampoos available from your doctor. I feel that there are two that are the best; they are Nix and Ovide. Nix is a permethrin based shampoo that is applied to wet hair for 10 minutes and rinsed. Ovide is a Malathion based shampoo that is rubbed into dry hair and allowed to dry naturally, then rinsed out in 8 to 12 hours. After treatment it is important to remove any nits that remain in the hair (on the hair shafts). There is no shampoo that should be used or is indicated to prevent head lice.
NEA Clinic (870) 935-4150 (for appointment)