There's a lot to consider when it comes to dermatology. 

Below are a few frequently asked questions we thought you might find helpful. Of course, we're always happy to answer any other questions you may have before, during, or after your appointment! We're here for you.

Do I need a referral for a dermatology appointment?

While Galen Dermatology does not require a referral from a physician, if a patient’s insurance company requires the referral, the patient will have to obtain one from their PCP. We cannot obtain the insurance referral on the patient’s behalf.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells deemed abnormal in the epidermis, or the outermost layer of the skin, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers such mutations. These mutations cause the skin cells to multiply rapidly, forming malignant tumors.

Are all skin cancers the same?

There are actually different categories of skin cancer, the most serious being melanoma. The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).

What causes skin cancer?

The two main causes of skin cancer are the sun’s harmful UV rays, and the use of UV tanning machines.

How often should I see a dermatologist to check for skin cancer?

Sun protection and early detection are the best defenses against skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that all adults perform monthly skin self-exams and see a dermatologist annually, or more often if they see something suspicious or have other risk factors.

What causes acne?

Acne develops when the pores of the skin become blocked with oil, bacteria, and/or dead skin cells. There are several triggers that can trigger or aggravate acne, such as hormones, diet, stress, and certain medications.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal– up to 10 times faster than normal in some cases. This causes irritation in which the skin builds up into bumpy red patches with white, flaky scales. Patches of psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but common areas include the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back.

When can you take Accutane, and what are the risks of this medication?

Accutane, or Isotretinoin, is a potent drug used in the treatment of acne. Generally speaking, four to five months of Accutane treatment clears acne in moderate to severe cases in which other treatments were unsuccessful. Common side effects include chapped lips, dry and itchy skin, dryness in the nasal cavities and potential mild nosebleeds, eye irritation, and joint and muscle pain.

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs surgery is considered to be the most effective technique for treating the two most common types of skin cancer– basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. The procedure is performed in stages that include lab work while the patient waits. This process has been developed in effort to both remove all cancerous cells for the highest cure rate possible, while also preserving surrounding healthy tissue and leaving behind the least amount of scarring.

How do you tell if a mole is suspicious or dangerous?

There are some potential warning signs to be aware of that could signify that a mole is dangerous or needs attention. Things to look for include asymmetry or irregular shape, irregular or notched border or an edge that isn’t smooth, uneven color or dark spots, diameter, and changes in size, shape, or texture.

What is “contact dermatitis”?

Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash-like skin condition caused by direct contact with a substance or object that causes an allergic reaction of the skin. It is not contagious or life-threatening, but can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Many things can cause contact dermatitis, such as soaps, cosmetics, jewelry, fragrances, and plants. Often contact dermatitis will clear up on its own once the allergen is removed from the situation; however, topical steroid creams can help immensely in treating more serious cases.

What skin conditions are caused by stress?

Anxiety can have a major effect on skin health. Many skin conditions are affected or onset by stress including: eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, ichthyosis, vitiligo, hives, and seborrheic dermatitis.

What are the most common skin issues?

The 10 most common skin issues are as follows: acne, eczema, shingles, hives, sunburn, contact dermatitis, diaper rash, rosacea, athlete’s foot, and basal cell carcinoma.

How long do neuromodulators, such as Botox and Dysport, typically last?

Generally speaking, the effect of Botox or Dysport injections will last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Lines and wrinkles begin to reappear as muscle action returns over time.

When should you wear sunscreen?

You should wear sunscreen anytime you will be outdoors for 30 minutes or more. Apply the sunscreen at least 20 to 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, and reapply about every 2 hours, even if your product label claims it lasts longer. If you get wet or sweaty, reapply more frequently to ensure coverage.

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. The number refers to the length of time it would take the sun’s rays to burn your skin when using a particular sunscreen versus how long it would take without it. So if you use an SPF 15 exactly as directed, it would take you 15 times longer to burn than if you were not wearing the sunscreen.

What does the term “broad spectrum” mean in relation to sunscreen?

On a sunscreen label, the words “broad spectrum” indicate that the sunscreen contains ingredients to effectively protect skin from both UVB and UVA rays.

When it comes to skin cancer, how harmful is indoor tanning or using tanning beds?

Indoor tanning, even one time, increases a person’s risk of all kinds of skin cancer, including melanoma. In fact, using a tanning bed before age 35 actually increases a person’s risk of melanoma by 75%. Just don’t do it!

How do you treat dry, itchy skin?

Treating dry, itchy skin effectively will require properly diagnosing the problem. In the interim, some tips for relieving dry skin are using cooler water when showering, limiting the length of showers to 10 minutes or less, not bathing more than once daily, and gently patting yourself dry after showering instead of rubbing the already irritated skin.

What can be done about the appearance of wrinkles and age spots?

Potential treatments for reducing the appearance of age spots and wrinkles include various products, cleansers, and creams, as well as other cosmetic dermatological treatments such as Botox.