Benign Skin Growths


Benign Skin Growths

By Sandy

Feb 27, 2008

The skin is the organ most exposed to the outside environment and it provides our first line of defense against a wide range of toxins, bacteria, viruses, foreign bodies, and diseases that could have serious and sometimes lethal impact. The many tumors and rashes that appear over time on different parts of the skin can be traced to more than 200 diseases, most of which are treatable, and most of which are completely benign. But it is the risk of malignancy or another life-threatening disorder, and the want to look beautiful, that makes it important to know when a growth or skin eruption requires medical assessment or can be treated simply.

Skin lesions may appear as pigment changes, such as a patch, as bumps, lumps, moles, warts, as flaky or crusty patches, or manifested in a wide number of other types of abnormalities. Joshua Fox, M.D., founder of Advanced Dermatology, P.C. in New York and on Long Island, and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, helps to clarify what we need to know about the changes we see on our skin.

MOLES: Most people are aware of the need to examine moles which appear benignly throughout life, and to check for new changes that occur, particularly in parts of the skin exposed to sunlight. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer taking about 41,000 lives worldwide, although it is far less common than the other skin carcinomas. The incidence of melanoma continues to grow at alarming rates among light-skinned people. According to the American Cancer Society, 60,000 people in the United States developed melanoma in 2007, and more than 8,000 died of the disease. The most suspicious moles are either congenital nevi, moles from birth, or dysplastic nevi, usually larger more irregular moles with irregular shape and or/color, which are found in an estimated ten percent of the American population.

WARTS: Warts are very common growths that occur on various parts of the body as a result of the human papilloma virus (HPV). “These are benign growths that affect all skin types and may go away without treatment, although if they persist, many people seek medical help to remove them due to irritation or just the unsightly appearance. The wart or virus also may promote certain skin cancers like some squamous cell carcinomas and cervical cancer,” Dr. Fox explains. They can be treated chemically, via cryotherapy, or with lasers, or surgically removed in a dermatologist’s office.

KERATOSIS PILARIS: Another type of common skin lesion is keratosis pilaris, in which the cells that normally flake off from the skin’s surface instead become trapped and plug hair follicles. They appear as hyperkeratotic, rough raised bumps based in hair follicles which can multiply in an area like the arms, thighs, buttocks, back and occasionally the face. “This is a common occurrence, particularly among teenagers,” Dr. Fox says, “and is not cause for serious concern.” Moisturizing is the first line of treatment for keratosis pilaris. He also suggests taking long baths and gently rubbing the skin surface with a course washcloth or buff puff. However, in some people this can cause irritation and/or discoloration. If the condition doesn’t go away, there are many effective topical treatments available with or without a prescription.

Seborrheic keratosis is a growth that appears usually over the age of 40, and can become irritating and itchy. It usually appears as brown keratotic stack on a lesion anywhere on the body. There are no particular topical or at-home treatments for this form. A dermatologist can treat areas with cryosurgery (freezing), dermatologic surgery or lasers to eliminate the discomfort and unsightliness.

SKIN TAGS: Skin tags are an annoying type of growth that about half of all people develop as they age. These are small pieces of hanging flesh that develop in areas that are prone to rubbing against clothing or other skin; or are moist areas such as the upper thighs, under arms, neck, and under women’s breasts from underwire bras. Another common site is the eyelid. “Most skin tags are small, but they continue to grow and often become painful or annoying because of their location,” according to Dr. Fox, who recommends a visit to dermatologist to have them removed if they are painful, irritating, bleeding, infected or get caught in clothing.

MELANOMA/SKIN CANCER: It is so important to be familiar with the moles on your body and to perform regular self-examinations of your skin. Melanoma often develops in a pre-existing mole that begins to change or in a completely new mole. Melanoma is a serious skin cancer and the mortality rate is remarkably high considering the fact that it is nearly always curable in its early stages; however, this high number can be attributed to the late diagnosis of the disease in which the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Melanoma most often appears on the trunk of men and the lower legs and arms of women, although it can be found on the head, neck, scalp or elsewhere. Melanoma represents approximately 5% of all skin cancers in the USA, but accounts for about 75 % of all skin cancer deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 65,161 people a year worldwide die from malignant skin cancer, approximately 48,000 of whom are registered. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates that in 2009, about 116,500 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. with 8,420 deaths (~1 death every hour).

Incidence rates are at least 16 times greater in Caucasians than African Americans and 10 times greater than Hispanics. Moreover, even though skin cancers are not as prevalent in individuals with darker skin, they can have more morbidity and fatalities since they may go undiagnosed for longer. Researchers estimate that 1 out of 50 people in the U.S. in 2010 will be diagnosed with melanoma at some point in their lives. Specifically, among Caucasians, the rate of increase of melanoma incidence is 3-7% each year.

Melanoma grows from pigment cells (melanocytes) in the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and mucous membranes and tends to spread out within the epidermis before moving into the deeper layer of the skin (the dermis). In its advanced stages it can spread to other organs of the body. Frequent self-examination for the ABCDE (Asymmetry, Border Irregularity, Color, Diameter and Evolving) characteristics of abnormal moles is suggested.

These are the most common types of growths that may appear over time on the skin, and the majority are no cause for concern. Many other types of benign lesions are also possible such as dermatofibromas, cysts, freckles, fibromas, keloids, lipomas, and granulomas, as well as many more rare types. While an assessment of anything unusual or a mole that is irregular in shape or size is critical, many other skin lesions can still cause a discomfort, pain or embarrassment you don’t have to live with. Dr. Fox notes that there are a wide range of treatments available which you can discuss with your dermatologist.

“Many patients don’t realize that most of the treatments can be performed at the time of the consultation visit so you go home without the problem you may have endured for months or years. Usually there is little to no mark left behind. It’s especially important to become educated to the changes that occur on your skin,” says Dr. Fox. “You need to recognize what you are prone to, how you can prevent it, and what options are available to treat it¬, as well as which lesion can get you into trouble.”

Which Age-Defying Method Is Right for You?


Skin Science

Which Age-Defying Method Is Right for You?

By Teri Brown

June 2008

New anti-aging techniques are allowing women to look younger for far longer than ever before. Botox, Restylane, Thermage, Microdermabrasion and a host of new laser methods mean women everywhere are taking advantage of the latest in age-defying techniques.

The downside to this explosion in skin science is the confusion it can bring to those of us who need it most. Which techniques should we use? We don’t want to spend money on Thermage when a round of facials would do the trick. Why waste time on Botox if lasers would be better? The following information will lead you through the maze of anti-aging techniques and help you make informed decisions.


Perhaps nothing has created as much excitement in the world of skin care as Thermage. This technique uses radio waves dispensed through a pen-like instrument in a grid formation over the face. The heat from radio frequencies tightens or lifts the skin, removing or reducing wrinkles and other fine lines in the skin as well as producing new collagen. The procedure takes about half of a day, and although many patients report a pinching sensation, there is very little real pain.

Dr. Joshua Fox, director of advanced dermatology at the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, N.Y., believes Thermage can be used on almost all areas of the face. “Thermage treatment was approved for wrinkle treatment around the eyes, yet we are finding that it offers even better results in other areas such as around the jaw, nasal labia folds, neck and chin areas,” says Dr. Fox.

Thermage isn’t for everyone, though. It works best for people in their 30s, 40s or 50s, who have some areas with wrinkles or sagging skin. It does not work as well for people who have advanced wrinkling or sun-damaged skin.

The results last between one and two years, and though costs vary, you can expect to pay about $2,000 for the procedure.


Laser resurfacing is performed using a beam of laser energy that vaporizes the upper layers of damaged skin with controlled levels of penetration. As your skin heals, new cells are formed and tighter, younger looking skin is the result.

“There are two major types of lasers used in resurfacing: ablative and non-ablative,” says Dr. Fox. Ablative lasers include the Carbon Dioxide Laser and the Erbium, both of which remove the top layers of skin, tightening and remodeling the collagen. Dr. Fox says this improves the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and to a lesser degree scars and sun damaged skin. There is approximately 70 to 80 percent improvement per treatment.

Non-ablative procedures, such as CoolTouch or Intense Pulsed Light, do not provide as much improvement, but usually there is not any down time. The non-ablative methods provide approximately 10 percent improvement per treatment.

When Monica Fedri, from Sherwood, Ore., wanted a laser treatment that would take care of her acne scarring, she chose a non-ablative method. Like many women, she needed something that would give her the results she desired, yet still allow her to return to work. “I had to wear a hat to protect my skin from the light, but the redness only lasted the day of the treatment,” says Fedri. “I was able to go right to work afterwards.”

According to Dr. Fox, some of the latest laser techniques combine both the Erbium and Carbon Dioxide lasers for better results. 

Botox burst upon the scene several years ago and just never went away. Botox is short for botulinum toxin A, and yes, it really is a toxin. One of the side effects of this toxin is paralysis. Other possible side effects include dysphasia, headache, neck pain, bruising/soreness at the injection site and nausea.

Botox successfully treats severe frown lines, because when it is injected into the muscle group surrounding the brow area, those muscles cannot scrunch up for a certain period of time. The injections last from three to eight months.

Restylane, Radiance, Cosmoderm and More

Dr. Cheryl S. Citron, dermatologist and former president of the New Jersey Dermatology Society, believes that fillers are perfect for women on the go. “The pervasive trend is toward the less-invasive procedures with decreased down time,” says Dr. Citron. “Working men and women can not afford the time at home hiding from the outside for days after a surgical procedure, so the less invasive options are much more appealing.”

The new generation of fillers, which includes Restylane, Cosmoplast, Cosmoderm and Radiance, are largely comprised of natural, human-derived products. Since people don’t often develop allergic reactions to them, delays for skin testing are no longer necessary.

“Since it is not made from animal products, we do not have to worry about allergic reactions,” says Dr. Citron. “It is used as a soft tissue filler, for the nasolabial lines and around the mouth.”

Fillers generally don’t take long to inject, and the results generally last from three to five months. Some of the fillers mentioned are not yet FDA approved, but are available at doctors’ offices.

Microdermabrasions, Dermaplaning and Facials

Dermatologists aren’t the only ones dealing with an industry exploding with new techniques. Aestheticians are now required to be both scientists and engineers as they utilize the newest potions and gadgets. Spas, such as the exclusive Belle Visage Day Spa in Studio City, Calif., are now offering facials that use both leading edge machines and the traditional creams and lotions.

The new ultrasound machines increase blood circulation and strengthen facial muscles. They can also reduce puffiness by draining excess fluid. These machines, used in conjunction with other techniques, can bring about amazing results.

Erica Trojan, a licensed clinical aesthetician from Wilmette, Ill., employs several different techniques in her practice. She is most known for her “medical facial” that uses different peels to exfoliate dead skin. Peeling is a method of taking off the top layers of skin to produce more of the necessary proteins that characterize younger skin. “It is multi-step and involves three different methods of exfoliation: an enzyme peel, a mechanical peel and a chemical peel,” says Trojan.

Enzyme and chemical peels vary in their aggressiveness. Enzyme peels use natural enzymes and herbs for a gentle peel that causes light exfoliation. You can buy and use these at home. Chemical peels are more aggressive and should be administered by a licensed aesthetician or dermatologist.

Mechanical peels can include Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion. Dermaplaning uses a planing tool that gently scrapes away dead and inactive layers of epidermal tissue. Microdermabrasion involves a dual suction/polishing technology using crystals and suction to mechanically exfoliate tissue. Like peeling, both Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion reveal new skin and can remove spots and blotchy patches.

Today’s anti-aging techniques are more diverse and more effective than ever before. With so many choices, women are sure to find a variety of methods that fit their lifestyles.

Coming Soon to a Salon Near You

The APTOS thread, or feather lift, was developed in the former Soviet Union and is expected to receive FDA approval soon. The threads, which are implanted at predetermined areas of the face, have barbs that lie in one direction and open up as the threads are lifted. The tissue is caught slightly in these barbs during the lifting process. The results improve over time as the collagen bunches around the areas where the barbs were implanted.

Diode lasers can be dialed to any wavelength needed, as opposed to the many different lasers doctors and other professionals now have in their offices. Presently, different lasers are used for different purposes. Diode lasers will make it easy for your skin care professional to adjust the process to suit your skin needs.

The JetPeel was developed in Israel and uses both saline micro-droplets and oxygen accelerated to incredible speeds to remove skin layers. This method is purported to both stimulate collagen and provide resurfacing. It is being tested in the United States, although it is not yet widely available.

Help! My T-Zone’s Out of Control!


I have an uneven skin tone: dry on the cheeks and oily in the T-zone. Moisturizers don’t seem to work; I just started using them two months ago. Please help.
—Myrka, Baguio City, La Trinidad, Philippines

I hate to tell you to race your face to a dermatologist as a first resort, but, truly, your condition could spring from a myriad of ills, including diet, allergies and stress. Without knowing more about your particular visage, your StyleSpy suspects you and your T-zone will soon end up at a doctor’s office. Still, let’s try to tackle your problem with a few common solutions.

“The best type of moisturizer to use for uneven skin tone and dry-slash-oily skin on the T-zone area is a mild moisturizer with 10 percent glycolic acid,” says dermatologist Jason Applebaum, an associate at Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery.

Peter Thomas Roth makes just such a product, as does Reviva Labs. Or consider a gel-based moisturizer instead of a cream; gels, in general, are lighter and help fight oily skin.

You might also want to try a toner, if you haven’t already, to be used between cleansing and moisturizing. “Make sure to use a toner that contains micro-powders that will mattify and restore the natural barrier,” advises John Krites of the skin care company L’Bel Paris.

Another simple step that doesn’t require health insurance and a doctor’s referral: powder! Foundations and powders that are mineral based tend to absorb oil without clogging your pores, especially on the oil-heavy T-zone, Krites says.

If powder isn’t your style, there’s always powder-in-a-paper, aka blotting tissue. Oscar attendees live by the stuff as they troop down the red carpet, assaulted by klieg lights; in fact, Dior has been known to make limited-edition blotting tissues as celebrity gifts during the ever-sweaty awards season. If you can’t find them, Body Shop makes a lovely, Earth-friendly alternative. Stick a packet in your purse and pat away the oil as needed throughout the day. You’ll reduce that shine to a nice glow.

Skin Care in Your 40s


Skin Care in Your 40s

by team
As a 40-something, you might be noticing more lines around your eyes, mouth and forehead and your complexion might be looking dull and dry. Fortunately, there are simple adjustments you can make to boost your complexion. Here’s what you can do to achieve healthier, more radiant skin.
Skin Care in Your 40s

Switch up your skin care

Throughout the years, you’ve probably developed a good routine of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing. However, your 40s are a time to re-evaluate your skin and update your regimen. How much you’ll need to adjust your routine will depend on how you’ve treated your skin thus far.

Dermatologist Joshua Fox, M.D., tells WebMD, “If you wore sunscreen, if you did some preventive care, then you may not notice any major difference in your skin.” But, “If you didn’t do those things, then fine lines and wrinkles are definitely on the upswing once you hit 40,” he explains.

Whether you need to make major changes or just several tweaks here and there, consider these tips:


  • Add powerful products. If you aren’t using an anti-aging topical treatment, now is the time to start. Look into powerful ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids, both of which stimulate collagen synthesis, helping to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and attain a younger, more radiant complexion. Because retinoids are only available via prescription, consult your dermatologist. 


  • Reconsider your skin type. As we age, not only does skin experience a loss of collagen and firmness, but our skin type tends to change, too. Usually, the skin gets drier, so even though you might’ve spent your entire life with normal skin, you might need to shop for products for dry skin. Make the switch by looking for hydrating cleansers and thicker creams (instead of moisturizer or lotion). 


  • Address acne. To many women’s surprise, acne can become a regular problem during your 40s due to hormonal changes. If that’s the case, Dr. Fox suggests seeing a dermatologist and gynecologist — yes you read that correctly. That’s because adult acne could indicate a gynecological problem. 

    It’s also easy to mistake acne for rosacea, a skin condition marked by redness, swelling and bumps, which typically resemble pimples. Because your “acne” might not be acne after all, consider seeing a professional to receive an accurate diagnosis. Also, your dermatologist can prescribe effective treatments that you won’t find over the counter.

Streamline your beauty routine

As women get older, they typically apply more (and heavier) makeup to conceal imperfections. This actually has the opposite effect: Heavy foundation and too much powder create a cakey complexion and can even highlight fine lines by settling into the creases of your wrinkles.

Instead of hiding your features, here’s how to enhance them and look younger:


  • Be selective. Rather than applying a surplus of cosmetics, pick several key products. What might be your must-haves? “Moisturizer, concealer, tinted moisturizer, pot rouge for lip and cheeks, black mascara,” renowned makeup artist Bobbi Brown tells Newsday. 


  • Consider creamy, hydrating products. Makeup that has a creamy consistency doesn’t sink into fine lines and it helps the skin appear dewy and supple. To guarantee your beauty products have a “creamy consistency,” look for “sodium hyaluronate, petrolatum and glycerin,” on the label, writes Brown in Prevention


  • Go with lighter colors. Choose lighter blush (like peach and light rose) and light-colored eye shadow. Brown suggests using medium eye shadow on the lid and a light shade just below the brow bone. 


  • Define disappearing lips and brows. Brown suggests using a natural-colored lip liner to enhance thin lips, reports Newsday. For vanishing brows, use eye shadow to draw them in. Just make sure to choose the same color as your natural brows. Marie Claire also suggests using a “chunky brow pencil.” 

Consider in-office options

You might be considering more dramatic procedures to rejuvenate the face. Here are the specifics on two common options:

    Chemical peels can improve skin discoloration, sun damage and scarring, treat some acne and reduce fine lines. There are a variety of chemical peels, including mild (e.g., glycolic acid peel), medium (e.g., Jessner’s peel; trichloroacetic acid peel, or TCA) and deep peels (phenol peel). The medium and deep peels penetrate deep into the skin, delivering more dramatic results. For example, deep peels can reduce wrinkles considerably. But this also means a longer recovery period, greater risk for side effects and a much higher price tag. 

      A dermatologist applies a solution to your face, which causes the skin to peel off. This reveals a new layer of skin that looks fresher, younger and has fewer wrinkles. Depending on the strength of the solution, you might be given medication. For instance, with a phenol peel, you’ll receive general or heavy sedation. 

      The cost of chemical peels varies widely. Mild peels can run around $100, TCA peels about $2,000 and phenol peels about $4,000 (with some upwards of $6,000). As with any procedure, complications are possible. Some individuals might develop temporary or permanent abnormal pigmentation and redness. Though less common, scarring can occur, but it’s treatable. Make sure to discuss all concerns with your doctor.

      If you’d like to pass on chemical peels, consider at-home products. Though you won’t get the same results, these products are effective for removing dead skin and refreshing your complexion. Try Dr. Brandt Laser A Peel or MD Formulations My Personal Peel System . 

    • How chemical peels work:
    • At-home option:

    Many swear by Botox, or botulinum toxin type, known for visibly reducing wrinkles and fine lines. 

      Approved in 2002 for frown lines between the eye brows (elsewhere on the face is considered “off-label” use), Botox works by temporarily paralyzing the muscle — injecting a short-term wrinkle antidote to the respective area. 

      The average cost of Botox injections is roughly $400 with results lasting four to six months. According to the Mayo Clinic, your skin type, skin thickness and the degree of wrinkles all impact the effectiveness of Botox. Some side effects include headache, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Around the treated area, you might notice temporary redness, bruising and pain.

      Some experts disagree on whether women should get Botox. In an article in Marie Claire, prominent dermatologists Fredric Brandt, M.D., (known as the “Baron of Botox”) and Nicholas V. Perricone, M.D., debated the efficacy and safety of Botox. According to Dr. Brandt, Botox is medicine that’s excellent in reducing fine lines, especially horizontal forehead lines, frown lines, crow’s feet and lines on the neck. 

      On the other hand, Dr. Perricone believes that Botox is a neurotoxin that will actually accelerate the aging process, because Botox users lose volume in their faces.

      He steers his patients away from Botox.

      If you choose to have Botox injections, make sure you go to a reputable and experienced professional.

    • How Botox works:
    • Some debate:
  • Chemical peels:
  • Botox:

What’s That on My Baby’s Skin?


We all want baby-soft, clear skin, but even babies often aren’t that lucky, says Joshua Fox, MD, Long Island dermatologist and founder of Advanced Dermatology and The Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. “Skin conditions are common in newborns, whose skin can be very sensitive.” The most common skin ailments, according to Dr. Fox are diaper rash, cradle cap, flaky skin and infant acne.

“These conditions aren’t serious and typically go away on their own, but they can be uncomfortable for babies – and for worried parents,” says Dr. Fox. “I always advise parents to talk to a doctor if a skin condition persists for several days without improving, or if it worsens.”

Diaper Rash
Wet, soiled diapers that rub against delicate baby skin and misuse or overuse of baby creams, lotions, oils, and powders are the culprits behind diaper rash, a red, inflamed rash that affects most babies at least once during their infancy. It can also be a recurrent problem for newborns and can become so severe that open, blistering sores develop on babies’ thighs, abdomens, and buttocks. Wet nappies, as the British call them, create a humid, moist environment that makes babies’ bottoms susceptible to irritation and inflammation.

The solution: “Change diapers frequently,” says Dr. Fox, “and gently cleanse – don’t rub – the baby’s buttocks with a warm, wet washcloth. Then apply a protective cream that contains zinc oxide to provide a barrier against urine and feces.” (Zinc oxide creams are available without a prescription.) Avoid premoistened baby wipes and products that contain fragrances or alcohol, which may actually make diaper rash worse rather than better because they may irritate a baby’s delicate skin. Also, after washing the baby’s bottom, allow the buttocks to air dry for a few minutes before putting on a new diaper.

Cradle Cap
Cradle cap (or “seborrheic dermatitis,” as it is known medically) is a condition that causes a red, scaly, itchy rash on the scalp. It’s not totally clear what causes cradle cap, but a yeast-like or fungal organism may be involved. It usually clears by itself by 8 to 12 months of age, says Dr. Fox.

Mild cases can be treated with a baby shampoo. “Gently shampoo the scalp to remove some of the scales,” he advises. “You can also use a soft brush while shampooing or after putting some mineral oil on the scalp to lift the scales.” Do not rub hard as you may exacerbate the problem.

If the condition is widespread or severe, parents should ask their pediatrician or a dermatologist to recommend an antiseborrheic shampoo, as well as corticosteroid, sulfer, and sulfacetamide and/or antifungal products depending on how the rash looks.

Flaky Skin/Eczema
Like adults, some babies may suffer from dry, flakey skin, particularly in the folds of the skin, like behind the knees and elbows. “This condition is usually temporary and will go away on its own,” notes Dr. Fox, particularly if it’s due to dry, cold weather.

To make your baby more comfortable, apply an unscented baby moisturizer to the affected area. Don’t bathe your child daily, and when you do, make baths short (and sweet!). Also, try to utilize less soap, body wash or cleansers as they are irritating and exacerbate the problem. If it does not resolve see a dermatologist.

Infant Acne
In the first few weeks after delivery, many babies, particularly boys, will develop red pimples and whiteheads on the cheeks and nose due to the high levels of male hormones (called androgens) circulating in their bodies. These hormones prompt oil production to the baby’s immature oil glands, leading to the growth of bacteria and the development of acne.

“As the weeks pass, androgen levels decline and infant acne usually goes away,” Dr. Fox explains. “If acne persists or is severe, a doctor can prescribe standard anti-acne drugs for babies, including benzoyl peroxide and possibly even topical or oral antibiotics.”