Medical Dermatology

The skin can be a window into the overall health of the body; we are experts at interpreting those signs and advising treatment.

Skin, the largest organ in our body, plays a critical role in our health. It is what we present to the world and protects us from the environment. Many common and rare conditions affect the skin from the mildest irritations, to life-threatening allergies. As Board-Certified Dermatologists, we strive to provide the highest quality, state-of-the-art medical care. We specialize in patient-centered, truly individualized care.

Acne

Acne affects individuals of all ages. A complex interaction between hormones, bacteria in the hair folllicle unit, oil (sebum ) production, and/or obstruction of the follicle opening (comedogenesis) lead to mild, moderate or severe acne. Common sites affected are the face, neck and torso (chest and back). Our Dermatologists will evaluate your acne, whether it is your first time seeing a Dermatologist or you are seeking an additional opinion. Our physicians will provide you an individualized treatment plan. Treatments range from gentle washes, diet changes, and mild topical preparations, all the way up to more powerful light treatments and oral medications. We help guide the choice of the best treatment on a patient-by-patient basis so that everyone is comfortable with the plan. We follow up closely to ensure that the treatments are working, and doing so safely.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin disorder. Red scaling lesions form on areas such as the scalp, elbows or knees, however, any body site may be involved. Nail changes and joint involvement (psoriatic arthritis) also occur. If you suffer from psoriasis, our Dermatologists will develop a treatment program with you, tailoring the therapy to your specific needs. We offer topical creams and medications, phototherapy and systemic agents (oral therapies and biologic drugs). Our physicians will closely monitor your progress to ensure that you are safely improving.

Moles

Moles, or nevi, are pigmented lesions on the skin. They occur on sun exposed skin, but may also be found on areas such as the scalp or soles of the feet. Some moles may transform into melanoma, so it is important to monitor your moles and have them checked regularly by a Dermatologist. This risk is higher if you have an extensive sun exposure history or use a tanning bed. If you would like a comprehensive total body skin exam, or if you are concerned about a changing pigmented lesion, please contact our office and one of our Dermatologists will assist you.

Skin Cancer

Our talented and caring Physicians are ready to assist patients with skin cancer of any type. We can facilitate diagnosis, offer in-office care where appropriate, and will coordinate therapy with other specialists to suit the individual needs of each patient. Our emphasis is on treating the whole patient. We will focus on education. We will answer all questions that our patients or concerned family members may have. We provide close follow-up and guidance with respect to prevention of future lesions where appropriate. For more information on these and all forms of skin cancer, we encourage our patients to visit the American Academy of Dermatology website.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common type of skin cancer. It may present as a non-healing pearly or red lesion, most commonly on the head or neck. Most BCCs are very treatable. Seeing a dermatologist early is important. BCC can grow deep, making treatment more difficult if diagnosis is delayed. Contact our office if you have a suspicious lesion you are concerned about. You should also be seen regularly by a Dermatologist if you have had a BCC as 50% of patients who have had one may get additional lesions.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This skin cancer tends to form on skin that has been exposed to the sun for years. It may present as an ulcerated or non-healing raised lesion. When found early and treated, SCC is curable. If diagnosis is delayed, SCC can spread, making treatment more difficult. Contact our office if you have any lesions you are concerned about.

Melanoma

This skin cancer is increasing in incidence faster than any other cancer. Unlike SCC and BCC, melanoma can spread quickly and be very dangerous. When treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, the cure rate is nearly 100%. Be sure you know the early signs of this very serious skin cancer. If you notice a mole that looks different from the others, notice a change in a pigmented lesion, or have a lesion that bleeds or itches, please contact our office for an evaluation by one of our physicians. Our physicians can help educate you on what to look for. If you have melanoma, our Dermatologists will assist in the coordination of your care with other doctors, if indicated. These may include a surgical oncologist as well as a medical oncologist. Please have your moles screened regularly as this may assist in early detection of melanoma.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic inflammation of the outer layers of the skin. It is often referred to as the itch that rashes. The exact cause of this disease is unknown but factors that may contribute to atopic dermatitis include, genetics, environmental influences and allergies. Atopic dermatitis is thought to affect nearly 20% of children but adults can develop it as well and at any time well after childhood. The condition is characterized by dry, itchy skin with scaly patches that may or may not include raised bumps, leathery skin, and oozing or cracking skin. Because atopic dermatitis tends to be a chronic condition it is important to know how to employ proper skin care that will work to prevent atopic dermatitis flares and control the symptoms of the disease. There are numerous prescription and over-the-counter treatments available and it is important to find one that works for you and is appropriate for you.  An individualized plan that treats your skin and situation will be developed with your dermatologist. In addition, MDA is also home to the integrative eczema center where we specialize in natural treatment approaches to atopic dermatitis.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a common condition that causes a red, scaly, and greasy rash. It can affect the scalp, face or other body parts. Dandruff is a type of seborrheic dermatitis that affects the skin on the scalp. The condition can appear mild with white scale or more pronounced presenting as a yellowish or reddish vibrant rash. The exact cause is unknown though it is thought that common yeast organisms such as Malassezia play a role in some people. There are a variety of treatments available including prescription and over-the-counter options. It is important to work with your dermatologist to understand how to prevent and manage this chronic condition.

Rashes

Rash is a broad term for a wide variety of skin conditions. A rash refers to a change that affects the skin. Rashes can appear in many different ways ranging from red patches, to bumps and blisters. Rashes can be infectious or non-infectious and acute or chronic. The majority of rashes are harmless but it is important to understand what may be causing the rash. In evaluating a rash it is also important for your doctor to understand what other medical conditions you have that may or may not be influencing or causing the rash.

Skin in Pregnancy and Post-Partum

The skin in pregnancy and post-partum has unique needs and considerations. It is important that you work with your dermatologist to understand what over-the-counter and prescription products are safe during this time. In addition to knowing what is safe to use on the skin during pregnancy and post-partum there are a number of skin conditions that are unique to the pregnant patient. Included, but not limited to PUPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy), Prurigo of Pregnancy, and Pemphigoid Gestationis. All are important to identify early on as all are easily treated.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis Suppurativa is chronic skin inflammation that usually occurs deep in the skin in areas where there is an abundance of sweat glands. It is characterized by a combination of black heads and inflamed bumps that often drain pus. These lesions can be very painful and debilitating. When left untreated scarring results that can worsen future outbreaks. Treatment depends on the severity, or grade of the condition and includes a wide variety of options including, topical therapy, oral therapy, and injectable therapy. In addition, the pain of lesions can be temporarily relieved by injections with medication that can decrease the inflammation at the site.

Care of the Skin During Cancer Treatment

The skin of a patient during treatment of cancer has special concerns. Most cancer treatments will affect the skin negatively, in some way and dermatologic side effects of cancer treatment can greatly impact ones physical and psychosocial health.  As cancer therapies evolve to include traditional chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and a combination of the above it is crucial to understand the potential impact these therapies can have on the skin. We will work with you to develop a program for your skin to help keep these side effects and changes as minimal as possible.

Actinic Keratosis

AK’s are a type of precancerous growth, often on the face and scalp. AK’s look like red, scaly growths. If you have such spots on your skin, it’s important to see a dermatologist. Our physicians can assist you in identifying potentially worrisome lesions such as AK’s and guide you on their treatment.

Dermatofibromosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)

DFSP is a slow growing, rare tumor that rarely spreads. It starts in the middle layer of the skin, the dermis, and pushes up to form a lump. Early on, it may resemble a deep seated pimple or a scar. Treatment is important because DFSP can grow deeper into the skin.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare, aggressive skin cancer. Cases of MCC have tripled in the last 20 years. MCC is considered aggressive because it can grow quickly and spread and return after treatment.

Because MCC is aggressive, prompt treatment is recommend. The sooner this skin cancer is treated the better the outcome.To improve a patient’s outcome, a team of doctors usually creates the treatment plan for MCC. This approach allows the patient to benefit from the expertise of specialists in different areas of medicine. The team often includes a dermatologist, a medical oncologist (cancer specialist), and a radiation oncologist (specialist in treating cancer with radiation.)

These actions help find cancer as early as possible. If you have a history of Merkel Cell Cancer, please contact MDA and our Dermatologists can assist you in coordinating your follow-up.

Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago