Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares back to school tips

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares back to school tips

Returning to school is an exciting chance to start over and enjoy new opportunities. With September upon us, your children are probably just settling into a routine and re-learning to balance homework, activities and friends.

Along with all the excitement, though, comes a packed schedule and significant exposure to germs. With so much to do, it can be easy to let hygiene practices fall by the wayside. As a parent, it’s important to let your children know that the key to being healthy, happy and productive this school year is to take great care of themselves and their belongings. Share the following tips with your children to help them have their best year yet.

Apply Sunscreen Before Spending Time Outdoors

Teaching your children proper sun safety habits will set them up for a lifetime of healthy skin. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas at least 15 minutes before leaving the house each morning, rain or shine. It’s also important to be consistent with weekend outings, sports practices and playdates. Teach your child how to apply sunscreen so that they understand how to get a full, even application and be sure they know when to reapply. We like EltaMD UV Sport Water-Resistant Broad Spectrum SPF 50, a formula that is great for wearing while active outdoors since it doesn’t run and won’t string if it should get in eyes.

Skin may begin burning and sustaining damage in as little as 10 minutes of intense sun exposure, which may mean your child will need to reapply during the school day for outdoor gym classes, recesses and field trips. You’ll want to store an extra sunscreen in your child’s school bag and sports bag just in case.

Find out your school’s rules about sunscreen, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

It’s important to note that sunscreen has been banned in some school districts across the United States because it is considered a drug. While sunscreen is not dangerous, school officials have expressed concerns over eye irritation and potential allergic reactions for students. Check with your child’s school about their sunscreen policy. Some may require a doctor’s note. If sunscreen is banned from your child’s school completely, no exceptions, you’ll want to contact administration about a change in policy or even consider exploring other districts. Two or more blistering sunburns sustained during childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer up to ten times later in life, so this is not an issue to be taken lightly.

Wash Your Face Twice a Day

Acne can be embarrassing for adolescents and leave them feeling socially isolated. Severe types of acne, such as cystic acne, can even leave behind permanent scarring that is next to impossible to completely eliminate down the road. It’s best to seek treatment for acne early, when your children are just beginning to experience breakouts. Your dermatologist should be able to prescribe an appropriate acne regimen and help teach your children how to use the products. Those adolescents who struggle with acne should be sure to avoid milk and other dairy products, as these can worsen breakouts.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends a mild facial cleanser twice daily for children.

Even if your child has not experienced his or her first pimple, it’s best to encourage them to wash their face twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Once they’ve reached nine or ten, breakouts could be just around the corner. A mild cleanser, like LovelySkin LUXE Clarifying Gel Cleanser, can help heal and prevent breakouts. It contains 2% salicylic acid and 2% glycolic acid to gently exfoliate skin and remove impurities.

Refrain from Sharing Personal Items

Sharing personal items can lead to the spread of viruses, bacteria and fungus and result in serious illness. Even refraining from sharing items like school supplies can cut down on the spread of germs, but there are certain items that shouldn’t be shared under any circumstances. These include clothing items such as hats, coats and shoes, lip balms, deodorants, nail clippers, towels, toothbrushes, makeup and earphones. Sharing drinking glasses, straws and eating utensils should also be avoided.

Encourage regular hand washing, especially after using the restroom and before eating each meal. Remind children to keep pencils, toys and drinking fountain bubblers away from their mouths.


Laundry hygiene is a big part of stopping the spread of germs, as well as various skin irritations. Items that come into close contact with the body are most likely to carry bacteria. Change towels and washcloths daily if possible, and launder bedding at least once a week. This will help cut down on acne and other skin infections. Be sure your child wears cleans clothes each day, and don’t forget about gym and sports uniforms. Lockers often have poor ventilation and can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Teach your child to hang his or her coat and gym clothes, and be sure these items are switched out and washed often.

Do you have a question about hygiene? Let us know in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses heat rash

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains heat rash

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, is a red or pink rash that is usually found on areas of the body covered by clothing. Though it’s most common in babies, anyone of any age can develop heat rash under certain conditions.

Heat rash is common in hot, humid environments, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Heat rash appears in the form of tiny pink or red dots that look similar to pimples. In adults, it is usually found in skin folds and in areas where clothing causes friction. In babies, heat rash typically appears on the neck, shoulders and chest, but it may also show in skin creases, underarms or the groin area. The rash develops when sweat ducts become blocked and swell, which leads to soreness, blisters and often, itching.

Heat rash usually begins with excessive perspiration in a hot, humid environment. It is most common in infants since well-meaning parents often dress their babies warmly no matter the climate. Those newborns in incubators are also more at risk to experience heat rash. Active adults and those patients who experience a severe fever accompanying an existing medical condition may also be more at risk.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains different types of heat rash.

There are several types of heat rash, and each is diagnosed by the severity of blocked sweat glands. Miliaria crystallina is considered the mildest form, affecting the sweat glands in the top layer of skin. It is characterized by fluid-filled blisters that tend to break easily.

Miliaria rubra occurs a bit deeper in the skin and involves red bumps, itching and a prickly sensation. When fluid-filled blisters that often accompany miliaria rubra become inflamed and fill with whitish material, the form is known as miliaria pustulosa.

The least common, but most severe form of heat rash is called miliaria profunda. It affects the dermis, the deep layer of skin. In this form, the blocked sweat leaks out of the gland onto the skin, creating firm, flesh-colored lesions that are similar to goosebumps. In rare cases, heat rash could become irritated from the friction caused by clothing and develop infection.

Follow Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s tips to treat mild heat rash at home.

While heat rash is uncomfortable, it does not usually require medical attention. The rash usually disappears on its own in two to three days with no additional side effects. The best way to address a heat rash at home is to keep it cool and try. Let skin air-dry after a bath or shower and avoid any tight clothing or irritating fabrics. There is no need to apply topical treatments, as these could irritate the skin and further block sweat glands. If the rash does not disappear within about four days, or if blisters burst and appear to be infected, see your physician.

To prevent heat rash, stay cool when being active outdoors. Limit the time you spend outside, wear loose, lightweight clothing and allow skin to dry if it becomes sweaty. In hot weather, infants should be dressed similarly to adults. Fleece-y fabrics and onesies may prove too warm for comfort, so opt for light cottons and two-piece ensembles when dressing your child. It’s also important to keep your baby cool during sleep, so adjust blanket weight, pajamas and swaddling practices accordingly.

Do you have a question about heat rash? Let us know in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses the causes of hair loss

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses the causes of hair loss

Every year, millions of men and women experience hair loss, some as early as their 20s. There are a number of different medical and environmental factors that can contribute to hair loss, and seeing your physician to pinpoint the cause is key to receiving the right treatment.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses normal hair shedding and growth.

Hair loss is not the same as regular shedding. It may be alarming to pull loose hairs from your ponytail daily or have a clump of hair clog the shower drain weekly, but the average person sheds between 50 and 100 hairs a day as part of the natural growth cycle. Everyone is a little different when it comes to the natural shedding process, and only you will be able to tell if you’re losing more hair than usual.

It’s also important not to confuse hair breakage with hair loss. Frequent heat styling and chemical treatments can leave hair dry, dull and brittle, with split ends. When split ends travel up the hair shaft, they may break off close to the root, giving the illusion of hair loss. Severely damaged hair should be rehabilitated through a deep conditioning regimen and a hiatus from hot tools.

Genetics is the leading cause of hair loss, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

The single largest cause of hair loss is genetics. Hereditary hair loss is referred to as female-pattern baldness or male-pattern baldness, respectively. In female patients, it’s characterized by thinning hair around the crown. Male patients may experience a receding hairline in an M shape or loss that begins at the temple and extends to the crown.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can contribute to hair loss for both men sexes, but more commonly, women. It happens directly after childbirth due to quickly falling estrogen levels. This loss usually peaks around four months post-birth and then hair returns completely back to normal after one year. Occasionally, the shifting hormones associated with menopause can cause hair loss, but this is relatively rare, and it is also temporary.


Certain antidepressants, birth control pills and drugs to treat epilepsy, high blood pressure and arthritis can interfere with the hair’s natural growth cycle and cause loss. Radiation therapy for cancer also causes hair loss, as well as change the color and texture of hair.

Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

Ringworm, seborrheic dermatitis and certain types of fungus can all cause irritation, inflammation, scarring and then eventual hair loss. Folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicles, may look similar to acne in appearance, with little rings around individual hair follicles. This condition can lead to temporary or permanent hair loss due to inflammation. Alopecia areata is a condition that usually affects the scalp and results in patchy hair loss. It is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation.

Thyroid Disease

Changes in the thyroid may affect hormones and the rest of the body’s systems, including the hair growth cycle. When the thyroid is hyperactive, hair may grow finer and thinner, and when the thyroid is underactive, thinning and loss may occur. Also, certain medications that are frequently prescribed for an underactive thyroid count hair loss among their side effects.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a form of gradual hair loss that occurs by pulling force to the hair. It is most common in those individuals who frequently style hair in tight braids, cornrows, pigtails and buns, and it is characterized by a receding hairline. If left untreated, traction alopecia can cause scarring and permanent loss.

Consult with your dermatologist about treating hair loss, Dr. Joel Schlessinger says.

Treating hair loss depends entirely on the type of hair loss being experienced. For temporary hair loss due to medication or hormone fluctuations, a supplement can help encourage healthy growth. Try Viviscal Professional Supplements. These exciting new dietary supplement tablets contain AminoMar Marine Complex, apple extract, biotin, vitamin C and a blend of essential amino acids to help rehabilitate hair in four stages. Hair is first nourished, then thin wispy hair is strengthened. Breaking and thinning continues to decline, and hair becomes stronger, healthier and more vibrant. The supplements work wonderfully for both men and women suffering from hair loss due to everyday stress, medication, hormonal changes and more.

The Rene Furterer Triphasic Progressive Hair Loss Kit and Rene Furterer RF80 Sudden Hair Loss Kit include comprehensive regimens to help strengthen and fortify thinning hair. Triphasic Progressive Hair Loss Kit is perfect for those struggling with hereditary hair loss. It contains Complexe 5 Regenerating Plant Extract to help strengthen hair at the root, Forticea Stimulating Shampoo to increase microcirculation and Triphasic Regenerating Treatment to target and correct hair loss.

The RF80 Sudden Hair Loss Kit is specially formulated for those experiencing sudden hair loss from temporary factors like hormonal changes, lack of nutrients and certain medications. It includes Complexe 5 Regenerating Plant Extract to strengthen hair at the root, Forticea Stimulating Shampoo to help encourage microcirculation and RF 80 Concentrated Serum to provide nourishment to weak, thinning strands.

There are also at-home devices available to address hair loss. Try the Hairmax Lasercomb Advanced 7, a laser photo therapy device that is clinically proven to stimulate hair follicles. With just three 15-minute treatments a week, you can enjoy new growth in as little as 16 weeks.

Do you have a question for Dr. Schlessinger about hair loss? Let us know in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses how to minimize under-eye puffiness

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses how to minimize under-eye puffiness.

Sagging, swelling or puffiness under the eyes—sometimes referred to as “bags”—is a common side effect of the natural aging process. As we grow older, tissues and muscles that support the upper eyelids can weaken, causing fat that is positioned around the eye to migrate to the lower eyelids and the area below the eye. Fluid can also accumulate beneath the eye, which contributes to under-eye circles and a puffy appearance.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains the causes of under-eye puffiness.

Under-eye puffiness often runs in families. Some individuals never experience bags and others experience bags prematurely. If your mother or grandmother have them, there’s a good chance that you will eventually have them too. In addition to genetics, there are several lifestyle habits that can worsen under-eye puffiness:

• A High-Sodium Diet: A diet that is high in sodium can cause fluid retention and a puffy appearance throughout the body, including the area around the eyes
• Alcohol: Alcohol can be dehydrating, pulling water from your skin and worsening the appearance of an aging eye
• Smoking: Smoking can dry out facial skin and cause collagen breakdown, resulting in a more wrinkled, sagging eye area
• Lack of Sleep: Lack of sleep can worsen fluid retention in the eye area, and discoloration can grow darker due to dilated blood vessels
• Hormone Levels: Fluctuating hormones can lead to fluid retention

Under-eye puffiness is primarily a cosmetic issue, but in certain circumstances, it may be indicative of allergies or other medical issues, particularly concerning the kidneys. See a doctor if the swelling is severe, accompanied by pain, redness and itching or if these symptoms have spread to other areas of the body.

A topical treatment can help combat the appearance of bags, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

There are many home remedies for under-eye puffiness that have been passed around for decades, such as placing tea bags, cucumbers or cold spoons over the eyes. These can temporarily reduce swelling, but they are not a viable long-term solution. Dr. Schlessinger recommends skipping out on these practices and applying a topical treatment instead. When used regularly and combined with a healthy lifestyle, these creams can help nourish the skin around the eyes and minimize puffiness.

LovelySkin LUXE Brightening Eye Cream, a brand-new product developed by Dr. Schlessinger, is a light-diffusing formula that helps to brighten dark circles and minimize under-eye puffiness. Hyaluronic acid helps to plump and hydrate skin, diminishing the appearance of fine lines, while Persian silk tree extract and horse chestnut extract help to address signs of fatigue.

Try Neocutis Lumiere Eye Cream (with PSP), a formula that helps to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with growth factors. The cream also features hyaluronic acid to intensely hydrate the skin around the eyes and caffeine to help reduce under-eye circles and puffiness.

Dr. Schlessinger also recommends Obagi ELASTIderm Eye Cream. Perfect for normal to dry skin, this cream contains the gentle exfoliator, malonic acid, to help remove dulling debris and restore elasticity. It also helps to tighten sagging skin around the eyes and eliminate dark circles and puffiness for a more youthful appearance.

SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex contains peptides, plus a blend of antioxidants, to help prevent collagen breakdown and loss of firmness. Exclusive anti-inflammatory ingredients help to combat dark circles and puffiness for a visibly improved appearance in as little as 12 weeks.

Ask a dermatologist, like Dr. Joel Schlessinger, about cosmetic procedures.

Cosmetic procedures are also available for under-eye bags, with fillers and laser treatments among the most common options. However, success can vary greatly by individual with these treatments, and they can carry added risk since the skin around the eye is thin and fragile. If you’re interested in exploring cosmetic surgery, it’s crucial to choose a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon who has the skills and expertise to provide the best treatment for your needs.

Do you have a questions for Dr. Schlessinger? Let us know in the comments section.

Why do birthmarks happen?

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses what causes birthmarks

Birthmarks are largely harmless skin irregularities that appear at birth or shortly thereafter. It is estimated that more than 80% of babies are born with some type of birthmark, and they can vary greatly in appearance. Certain moles may be classified as birthmarks, but most recognizable marks are light brown, pink or red with irregular borders. Remember Dr. Schlessinger’s post about The Grand Budapest Hotel for the 2015 Dermies? Agatha, a lead character in the film, has a port-wine stain birthmark on her cheek in the shape of Mexico!

Doctors aren’t sure why birthmarks occur, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

While real birthmarks don’t usually have a definitive shape like Agatha’s, our marks still often help emphasize individuality and they feature prominently in many cultures. From good luck symbols to evidence of a mother’s diet during pregnancy, people have speculated for centuries about their significance. None of these stories has proven to scientifically explain birthmarks.

Dermatologists aren’t quite sure why some people develop certain birthmarks and others do not, but genetics and skin tone appear to play a role in some cases. While the exact cause of most birthmarks remains largely mysterious, dermatologists can define the skin phenomena that give the various types of marks their appearance. There are several subcategories, but for the most part, birthmarks can be divided into two types: pigmented and vascular.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains pigmented and vascular birthmarks.

Pigmented birthmarks are characterized by areas that are a different color than the rest of the skin. They are typically light brown or tan, but they can also be black, blue or blue-gray. These marks are caused by clusters of pigment cells. When there is an abnormal level of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color) per square millimeter of skin, a birthmark forms. Size and color depend on the amount of melanin and location of the mark. Types of pigmented birthmarks include moles, café-au lait spots and Mongolian spots.

Vascular birthmarks are red or pink in appearance. They are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels from a deficiency in the nerve supply during fetal development. Clusters of these tiny blood vessels form in a concentrated area, giving the mark its pinkish or reddish look. Common vascular birthmarks include macular stains, port-wine stains and hemangiomas.

See a dermatologist, like Dr. Joel Schlessinger, for certain types of birthmarks.

Birthmarks may disappear over time or grow larger, depending on their type. Most won’t require medical attention, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on moles. Moles that are present at birth are thought by some to pose a greater risk of becoming cancerous later in life. If the spot changes shape, color or size, seek a physician’s care. In infants, certain hemangiomas in areas such as the chest may also require treatment since they can grow deep into skin tissue and affect organ functioning. If your baby’s hemangioma begins to bleed or form a sore, contact your dermatologist.

For more information on common types of birthmarks, see Dr. Schlessinger’s post and video.

Do you have a question for Dr. Schlessinger about birthmarks? Let us know in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares an article about how Botox could make skin more elastic

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares an article about Botox and skin elasticity

Every year, millions of people turn to Botox to achieve a more youthful, rejuvenated appearance. Botox typically has the power to relax wrinkles for up to three months, but recent studies show that the injections could have lasting positive effects on the skin’s elasticity. In this blog entry, Dr. Schlessinger shares an article from TODAY Health called, “Can Botox make your skin stretchier?” as well as a look at these studies and the future possibilities of Botox.

Botox may help stimulate collagen and elastin, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Botox works by relaxing the muscles in the face that are associated with expressions like smiling, frowning and squinting. Those patients who get Botox frequently seem to have less inflammation and overall healthier-looking skin than those who don’t. While researchers are not yet clear on what could be causing Botox injections to render the skin more youthful and elastic, they suspect that the neurotoxin has the ability to stimulate skin cells called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin, the proteins that lend structure and firmness to skin. As we age, skin elasticity can decrease to as little as 50 percent by age 70.

In a Toronto study conducted in 2012 and 2013, 43 women with an average age of 55 were given injections around and between their eyes. The skin was then measured with a device called a Cutometer to determine elasticity. The device was able to prove that the skin did become stretchier and more elastic. The effect wore off within about four months, slightly longer than the average, three-month wrinkle relaxing effects of Botox. Other theories currently being tested involve discovering whether Botox has the ability to “organize” collagen in the skin, or whether it’s possible that “freezing” or relaxing the muscle with Botox stops it from producing the waste that could lead to slack, tired skin.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger and other dermatologists continue to research the effects of Botox.

Finding a way for skin to organically produce more collagen and elastin is a long-term goal for Dr. Schlessinger and other physicians. While the ability of Botox to render skin more elastic still remains a mystery, the possibilities are exciting. Patients can continue to enjoy their usual excellent results and perhaps benefit even more in the long run.

Do you have a question for Dr. Schlessinger about Botox? Let us know in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses the treatment and prevention of warts

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses how to treat and prevent warts




















Warts are common skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Most people develop an immune response to warts that helps them go away on their own over time, but this could take months or years. Though they’re rarely painful or harmful, warts can be unsightly, and many patients opt to have them removed rather than wait for them to disappear.

Though there are countless treatments available for warts, no treatment boasts a 100% success rate. The good news is that the treatments that Dr. Joel Schlessinger offers at Skin Specialists of Omaha produce a 50-75% success rate. Though there’s always a chance that the wart could appear again in the same spot, the odds are good that you’ll remain wart-free. The following are a few effective treatments for warts.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses in-office treatment options for warts.


Dr. Schlessinger often opts for a topical method to treat warts on his patients. During treatment, the diluted substance, dinitrochlorobenzene, or DNCB, is applied to the wart. The substance then causes an immune response that wards off the wart-causing virus. Like all wart removal procedures, DNCB treatment require patience and persistence. A short series of physician-administered DNCB will often significantly improve warts. However, depending on the size and thickness of the wart, several treatments may be needed. With DNCB, diligent at-home care is also recommended.

Laser Wart Removal

Laser removal utilizes an intense beam of light to destroy the wart tissue. First, the wart virus is destroyed by the laser energy, then the laser energy helps to eliminate the blood supply that helps to nourish the wart and prevent it from going away. This treatment is usually only used for large or widespread warts, and it generally requires local or general anesthetic, as well as a series of up to four treatments spaced by a number of weeks. With this method, symptoms of redness and swelling may persist for one to two weeks, and there is an increased risk of post-procedure scarring and disfigurement. There is also the potential to spread the wart virus via air. Dr. Schlessinger avoids laser removal for these reasons, and also because it does not offer additional benefits when compared with safer methods.


Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen, or extreme cold, to quickly freeze the wart off. Within one to four treatments with up to three weeks between sessions, the wart is usually gone. A numbing local anesthetic is usually applied, and this helps to eliminate any pain and discomfort. Mild pain may last up to three days after treatment, and the affected area is usually healed within one to two weeks’ time. There is a low risk of scarring with cryotherapy.

Electrosurgery Electrosurgery uses heat from electricity to remove the wart. During treatment, an instrument is heated with electricity and then placed on the area without electricity entering the body. One 20-30 minute treatment resulting in a small wound is usually all that is required. Practicing proper at-home care for the wound is crucial to quick, successful recovery.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel may be applied over a series of treatments to gradually reduce warts until they disappear altogether. These peels often contain strong concentrations of effective exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid, tretinoin or salicylic acid, and they are mainly recommended for the treatment of flat warts. The exfoliating substance is applied at home to the warts daily, and then peeled off to gradually remove abnormal skin cells and encourage new, healthy cell regeneration.

Taking spirulina as an oral supplement could help heal warts, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae packed with vitamins and minerals. It is known for its ability to strengthen the immune system and improve skin and nails. Dr. Schlessinger recommends taking spirulina in oral supplement form to help expedite the natural repair process for warts and to complement your wart removal procedure. In addition to addressing warts, spirulina offers antioxidant protection against free radical damage and signs of aging, as well as acne-healing benefits.


Since some wart removal treatments carry a risk for scarring, you’ll need to choose aftercare products that will help your skin repair quickly and safely. LovelySkin.com carries a wide range of products for scarring and healing that are personally selected and recommended by Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream’s powerful formula reduces the risk of infection and helps create an optimal environment for healing. Perfect for sensitive skin, this cream contains thermal spring water to gently and effectively treat recovering areas.

Be wary of home remedies when treating warts, Dr. Joel Schlessinger warns.

You’ve probably noticed many over-the-counter salicylic acid treatments for warts while browsing the aisles of your local drugstore. Often featured in acne care products, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that helps to gently exfoliate skin and eliminate impurities. In the case of warts, it helps to soften and dissolve abnormal skin cells. Over-the-counter wart removal kits are easy to obtain and easy to use, but like all wart treatments, they are only sometimes successful. To avoid spreading or reinfecting yourself with the virus, do not reuse washcloths, bandages or other materials that have come into contact with the wart during treatment.

Dr. Schlessinger recommends seeking the opinion of an expert before taking matters into your own hands with over-the counter treatments. In rare cases, salicylic acid may leave the wart enlarged and inflamed. In addition to salicylic acid-based treatments, you may find over-the-counter freezing kits for warts. Dr. Schlessinger does not recommend over-the-counter freezing methods, since what might appear to be a wart at first glance could be a mole, skin tag or other growth. It’s always best to be sure that you aren’t attempting to treat a more serious problem. Avoid purchasing unproven remedies or “miracle” products over the Internet internet to treat warts. These are never FDA-approved and could worsen the wart and irritate healthy surrounding skin. Similarly, do not use home remedies or natural recipes you might find on sites like Pinterest. Even common household ingredients and certain essential oils could prove irritating to skin, and these homemade potions could do more harm than good in the long run. Some over-the-counter products promise to freeze warts using dimethyl ether and propane, but it’s always best to seek professional care to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of scarring.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger provides helpful tips for preventing warts.

Though preventing contact with all wart-causing viruses can seem as impossible as avoiding germs altogether, there are several things you can do to lessen your chances of developing them. Always wear shoes in moist public places like showers and pools. Don’t share towels, clothing or shoes with others, especially if you know they have warts. If you visit the nail salon for manicures, consider bringing your own set of nails tools so that you avoid cross-contamination. Be sure that your nail technician wears gloves and takes proper sanitary measures between clients.

Have any skin abnormalities that could potentially be unknown warts checked out and treated if necessary. Check your children for warts often, particularly on their hands and feet. Like most contagious viruses and infections, warts are extremely common in school-age children due to close contact and the sharing of communal items. Avoid bathing children together to prevent spreading warts between them, and make regular hand-washing a family habit.

Do you have a question for Dr. Joel Schlessinger about warts? Let us know in the comments section.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses an article about the prevalence of cold sores

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses an article about cold sores

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than half of Americans ages 14 to 49 carry the virus that causes cold sores. In this blog entry, Dr. Schlessinger shares an article from HealthDay.com called “Many Americans Under 50 Living With Cold Sore Virus,” as well as helpful treatment advice.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains cold sores.

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, appear as small, fluid-filled blisters on and around the mouth. Tingling, itching or burning typically occurs in the general area a sore will form before a hard, painful blister appears. Usually grouped together in clusters, these blisters may break and form a crust and subsequent sore. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, a highly contagious virus that, once contracted, remains in the body even when there are no active or visible sores present. While symptoms that arise from the herpes simplex virus are treatable, there is currently no cure.

The herpes virus is transmitted between individuals through close contact, such as kissing and sharing drinking glasses and food utensils. Cold sores remain contagious at every stage, so the virus may also be spread through contact with hands that have recently touched a weeping sore.

Sores may appear just once in an individual’s lifetime when they initially come into contact with the virus, or they may be reoccurring. An initial cold sore outbreak may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as headache, joint pain, body aches, swollen lymph nodes and fever. These symptoms should not occur again during subsequent reoccurrences.  Factors known to trigger cold sores include illnesses such as the common cold or the flu, hormonal fluctuations, stress and fatigue, prolonged sun exposure and trauma to the skin from things like shaving, dental work or surgery.

Address cold sores when initial tingling occurs, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Fortunately, most cold sores go away on their own without scarring. However, healing could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on an individual’s immune system and the severity of the sore. There are a few things you can do to make the healing process go more smoothly. As with any illness or condition, addressing the issue early on it the best way to ensure a less painful cold sore and a quicker recovery.

Dr. Schlessinger and other dermatologists recommend applying an over-the-counter antiviral cream or ointment like Abreva at the first sign of tingling, before a cold sore has even appeared. Abreva is FDA-approved to shorten healing time to as little as two and a half days and block the virus that causes cold sores, protecting healthy cells.  Ibuprofen can help with any pain you might experience, and applying a cool, wet towel to the sore for up to 10 minutes at a time can help soothe the area.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests avoiding highly acidic foods such as fruit juices and tomatoes to keep from irritating or exacerbating sores. Avoid spreading cold sores by abstaining from kissing and all other intimate contact, and by not sharing towels, food utensils, toothbrushes and drinking glasses.

If you find yourself suffering from frequent and/or severe cold sores, it’s time to see a doctor. There are several prescription antiviral medications available that can help alleviate pain and expedite healing time. One of the most commonly prescribed medications for cold sores is Valtrex, an oral medication that helps fight the virus responsible for cold sores, as well as the virus that causes chicken pox in children and shingles in adults. Valtrex works best at the first sign of an outbreak, and it may also be taken regularly or semi-regularly for prevention even when no cold sores are present. Taking anti-viral medication for prevention purposes is called a prophylactic treatment regimen, and your physician should be able to recommend a course of medication that is best suited for your unique needs.

Do you have a question for Dr. Schlessinger about cold sores? Let us know in the comments below.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses an article about the threat of cancer and miscarriages from nail products

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses health risks associated with nail products

Medical research shows that there is a direct link between common chemicals found in nail products and the risk of serious disease. In this blog entry, Dr. Schlessinger weighs in on a recent article in The New York Times titled, “Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers,” and shares important nail salon safety tips.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger lists common nail product chemicals that are linked to health risks.

Stories of illness and tragedy have grown all too common in nail salons across the country. A cumulative and expanding body of medical research shows a direct correlation between cancer, abnormal fetal development, miscarriages and other reproductive issues. In addition, many manicurists report respiratory problems accompanied by asthma-and/or allergy-like symptoms, chronic nose bleeds and sore throats.

Chemicals that allow nail polishes and other beauty products to be chip-resistant, quick-drying and brightly colored are to blame. Dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, an ingredient that allows polishes to be pliable, is known to cause fetal harm. Toluene is a type of solvent that helps polish to glide on smoothly, but it can also cause cognitive impairment and affect healthy kidney function. Formaldehyde, a hardening agent in nail glues, is a known human carcinogen.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares tips for keeping yourself safe from harmful fumes.

Proper ventilation is crucial, both in and outside the nail salon.

“[Nail salon] fumes can cause many unintended consequences for individuals, both in the industry or in their own homes. For this reason, I recommend putting on nail polish in an open and safe area where other individuals are not present to breathe in the fumes. This includes, in particular, closed spaces such as airplanes, small rooms and cars,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

Always choose a clean, reputable salon, and one that has sufficient air circulation. Even if you do not visit often, you and others are still at risk for harmful exposure.

“When going to a nail salon, make sure that you are protected as well,” Dr. Schlessinger says. “If the salon doesn’t have adequate air movement, inquire about this and, if necessary, explain the importance of it to the owner of the salon.”

Zoya nail polishes, recommended by Dr. Joel Schlessinger, are free of harmful chemicals.

For a purer polish, try Zoya. The DBP-, toluene- and formaldehyde-free line of polishes are long-lasting and come in a variety of colors and finishes.

Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy now recommends and performs Ulthera® laser treatments

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy now recommends and performs Ulthera® laser treatments
Those of you who have spoken with me in the last two to three years have probably heard that the Ulthera® ultrasound laser is rapidly becoming the gold standard treatment for lifting and tightening mild to moderate skin or fat sagging of the face and neck. Anyone who has been pregnant or had any internal issue knows that ultrasound waves have been used safely, painlessly and effectively to image and diagnose a variety of normal and abnormal medical issues. Ultrasound devices, which penetrate into internal organs such as the uterus, kidneys and heart, have been proven safe and effective for 50 years. The Ulthera® laser harnesses the power of ultrasound waves delivered at a very precise depth of deep (dermal) skin and subcutaneous fat to tighten the fibrous connective tissue in those areas.

The first model of the Ulthera® laser was effective, but painful to deliver. Knowing that the device would improve, I now perform Ulthera® treatments using the updated version of the laser, which only requires Tylenol® or Aleve® (we can discuss which one is right for you) 30 minutes before the procedure.

Who are the best patients for Ulthera®?

If you have a thin face/neck/body and are starting to notice mild or moderate sagging skin only (without underlying sagging fat), then Ulthera®  is a great treatment for you at any age, improving skin tightness by about 50 to 70 percent in one treatment, which may persist for three to five years!

If you are in your late 30s or 40s and are only 15 to 20 percent heavier than your ideal body weight, the Ulthera® laser can tighten skin and reduce fat in the neck, cheeks or body by about 50 percent in one treatment; results should persist three to five years, if your weight remains stable.

If you have had a face or neck lift in the past three to 15 years and feel that you need a “touch-up,” Ulthera® may be the perfect nonsurgical option for you.

Those who are more than 20 to 30 percent overweight or have severe skin sagging are not good candidates for the Ulthera® laser.

The logistics of Ulthera® are great.

The treatment takes about 20 minutes, and Dr. Jegasothy has personally perfected the “least painful” protocol for every area. There is mild swelling in the treated area for one to two days. Then you will return to baseline, and notice a slow, gradual tightening and lifting of the treated area from months one to six, when you will achieve your maximal improvement.

Do you have a question for Dr. Jegasothy? Share with us in the comments.