Wake Forest Dermatology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of common and complicated skin conditions in people of all ages including children.
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells start growing abnormally, causing cancerous growths. Most skin cancers develop on the visible outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), particularly in sun-exposed areas (face, head, hands, arms, and legs). They are usually easy to detect by examining the skin, which increases the chances of early treatment and survival. There are different types of skin cancer, each named for the type of skin cell from which they originate. The majority of skin cancers fall into one of the following categories: Basal cell carcinoma (also called BCC) which comes from the basal cells in lowest part of the epidermis, Squamous cell carcinoma (also called SCC) which comes from the skin cells that make up the top layers of the skin, and Melanoma which comes from skin cells called melanocytes. When detected early, skin cancer can be treated. Preventative plans which begin with the use of sunscreen and annual skin exams are an easy way to improve skin health.
Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes produce more pigment, causing the skin to tan, or darken. Sometimes clusters of melanocytes and surrounding tissue form noncancerous growths called moles. Moles that have an irregular shape, multiple colors, or a recent change in size should be examined by a dermatologist. Many people schedule an annual examination of their skin at the beginning of the year or in the month of their birthday. Is it time for your annual skin exam?
Research shows that there are, in fact, two distinct types of aging. Aging caused by the genes we inherit is called intrinsic (internal) aging. The other type of aging is known as extrinsic (external) aging. Intrinsic aging, the natural aging process, is a continuous process that normally begins in our mid-20s. Genes control how quickly this normal aging process unfolds. External factors that prematurely age our skin are sun exposure, repetitive facial expressions, gravity, sleeping positions, and smoking. While you cannot stop or even slow down your natural aging process, Dr. Matheis recommends comprehensive sun protection to prevent premature aging caused by the sun. If you are bothered by visible signs of aging, a number of treatments are available.
Acne is a very common skin problem and can occur at any age. Acne shows up as outbreaks of bumps on the skin and is called blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, and cysts. These usually appear on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Acne can be a source of emotional distress and many new treatment options are available for your individual needs.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness and swelling of the face. Rosacea can also appear on the scalp, neck, ears, chest, and back. Eye symptoms (ocular rosacea) are also reported by many people with rosacea. Those afflicted with rosacea may first notice a tendency to flush or blush easily. The condition may progress to persistent redness, pimples, and visible, threadlike blood vessels (telangiectasias) on the surface of the skin. There are many environmental exposures that can worsen rosacea symptoms including sun exposure. Many combination treatment options exist for improving rosacea.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is chronic condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It is very common and affects one out of every five people. It is not contagious. Instead it is inherited and many people with eczema will have family members with the same condition. Some common conditions associated with eczema include asthma and seasonal allergies. Eczema can go through cycles of improvement and worsening. Itching and irritation during flare-ups can be extremely bothersome and even painful. Eczema is also prone to infections. Many new therapies and emollients help people with eczema restore balance to their skin’s health.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting skin disorder that causes red, scaly patches on the limbs, trunk, scalp, and other parts of the body. It is not contagious. The rash of psoriasis goes through cycles of improving and worsening. At times it can be disfiguring, uncomfortable, and even painful. The scaling and unpleasant appearance of psoriasis lesions (especially if left untreated) can cause embarrassment and be a significant source of anxiety or depression. Psoriasis can also interfere with sleep and make everyday tasks difficult. Psoriasis can be complicated by joint pain and swelling. There are other chronic medical conditions that are now known to be associated with psoriasis. Ongoing evaluation and treatment are important lifestyle choices for anyone with psoriasis.
Our community is made up of many ethnic groups and cultures. Each ethnic group has unique, personal characteristics with respect to eye, hair and skin color. The main cultural differences among ethnic skin reflect the variety of pigments that give human skin a wide variety of colors. One of the pigments is called melanin. Melanin provides some, but not complete protection to sun exposure (equals 10SPF). But melanin can leave behind darker brown marks from trauma or even an ordinary acne breakout. Also ethnic skin spans the whole spectrum of skin types — oily, normal, dry and combination. Gentle treatment and consistent sunscreen use will help keep ethnic skin healthy and beautiful.
Warts are growths on the skin caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are very common, particularly in school-age children. Warts can spread by direct contact to other parts of the body and to other people. Warts are usually painless unless they appear on the soles of the feet. Treatments for warts include occlusion (covering the wart in a bandage or strip of tape), over the counter medications (salicylic acid), cryotherapy (freezing), electrosurgery, laser surgery, and prescription medications. Warts have a tendency to return, so repeated treatments may be necessary. There are additional treatment options for warts do not respond well to standard treatments, keep returning or are widespread.
Melasma is a skin condition in which brown patches appear on the face usually on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. Women are at greater risk of developing melasma if they are pregnant, take birth control pills, or take hormone replacement therapy. Sunlight hastens the development of melasma. People at risk of developing melasma will notice the discoloration worsening upon exposure to sunlight. Treatment starts with a good sunscreen. Additional treatment options to fade the brown discoloration are available.
Nails may be a small part of our outward appearance, but they are important and help to protect fingers and improve dexterity. Nails may also reveal clues to a person’s health. Some nail conditions are harmless. These include vertical ridges, which may become more pronounced as you age, and white lines or spots. However, other nail conditions can indicate serious disease. For example, yellow discoloration in your nails may result from a respiratory condition, such as chronic bronchitis, or from swelling of your hands (lymphedema) or from yeast or bacterial infection beneath the nail If your nail pulls away from the nail bed, it could indicate psoriasis or intolerance to certain medications. Persistence of a nail problem needs to be evaluated.
The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. Hair loss is commonly considered a men’s health topic, but women can experience hair loss too. Hair loss in women can go unrecognized. In the normal cycle of hair growth, it is natural to lose up to 150 hairs per day. Losing more could be a sign of excessive hair loss. The most common type of hair loss is called androgenic alopecia, which is an inherited tendency to stop producing new hairs. Early diagnosis and treatment to prevent permanent loss of hair is important.
Vitiligo causes white patches to appear on the skin. These patches are more common in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun. Vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease, which happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in your skin that make pigment. When attacked, they can no longer make pigment in normal amounts and areas of skin experience a loss of color. People with vitiligo may also notice loss of color from hair. There are several treatment options that are aimed at restoring color to the white patches of skin.
Keloid scars are excessively large scars that form at the site of wounds or trauma, including ear piercings, vaccinations, or surgical sites. Keloid scars may form on any part of the body, but are most common on the upper chest and shoulders. The tendency to develop keloid scars is inherited and is more common in dark-skinned people. It is not known what causes some people to develop larger scars than others. The excessive scar tissue may be itchy or uncomfortable and can become irritated from rubbing against clothing or other adjacent skin. Treatments are available for keloid scars.