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Posts for category: Skin Protection

By Cullman Dermatology Clinic, P.C.
November 13, 2017
Category: Skin Protection

Poison IvyIf you spend time outdoors, then you’ve probably come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac at some point in your life. The plants’ oily sap, known as urushiol causes many people to break out in an itchy rash. Urushiol is colorless or pale yellow oil that exudes from any cut part of the plant, including the roots, stems and leaves.

The intensely itchy rash is an allergic reaction to the sap and can appear on any part of the body. The severity of the reaction varies from person to person, depending on how much sap penetrates the skin and how sensitive the person is to it. The most common symptoms include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness or streaks
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Small or large blisters
  • Crusting skin when blisters have burst

When other parts of the body come into contact with the oil, the rash may continue to spread to new parts of the body. A common misconception is that people can develop the rash from touching another person’s poison ivy rash. However, you cannot give the rash to someone else. The person has to touch the actual oil from the plant in order have an allergic reaction.

When to See Your Dermatologist

Generally, a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac will last 1 to 3 weeks and will go away on its own without treatment. But if you aren’t sure whether or not your rash is caused by poison ivy, or if you need treatment to relieve the itch, you may want to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and care. You should also see your dermatologist if the rash is serious, in which case prescription medicine may be necessary. Swelling is a sign of serious infection.

Other signs that your rash may be serious include:

  • Conservative treatments won’t ease the itch
  • Rash begins to spread to numerous parts of the body
  • Pus, pain, swelling, warmth and other signs of infection are accompanying the rash
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling, especially on the eyelids
  • Rash develops on face, eyelids, lips or genitals
  • Breathing or swallowing becomes difficult

To avoid getting the rash caused by poison ivy, oak or sumac, learn how to recognize what these plants look like and stay away. Always wear long pants and long sleeves when you anticipate being in wooded areas, and wear gloves when gardening. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing immediately.  

Poison ivy, oak and sumaccan be a real nuisance and often difficult to detect. As a general rule, remember the common saying, “Leaves of three—let them be.” And if you do get the rash, visit our office for proper care.

By Cullman Dermatology Clinic, P.C.
June 14, 2017
Category: Skin Protection
Tags: Skin Protection   SPF   Sunscreen  

SunscreenThere is a wide variety of sunscreens available, including lotions, sprays, creams, gels, wipes, and lip balms, to name a few. These topical products absorb or reflect some, but not all, of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin to help protect against sun damage. But which one is right for you? Our practice can help you find the best sunscreen for your needs and lifestyle.

SPF - what's in a number?

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) provides an indication of how effectively a sunscreen can protect your skin from the ultraviolet-B (UVB) light - the rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer. A higher SPF number represents a higher level of protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen products with a sun protection factor of at least 30.

Today, sunscreens with SPFs as high as 100 are available, but a higher number doesn't necessarily mean more protection. For instance, many people believe a sunscreen with SPF 45 would give 3 times as much protection as one with an SPF of 15. This is not true. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%. SPF 50 sunscreens filter approximately 98% while SPF 100 provides 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen can provide complete protection.

Apply Sunscreen Properly

Regardless of the SPF rating, sunscreen should be reapplied often for optimal protection. A majority of people do not apply a layer of sunscreen thickly, so the actual protection they get is less. For best results, most sunscreens must be reapplied at least every two hours, more often if you are swimming or sweating. Apply sunscreen generously, paying close attention to face, ears, arms, neck and all other areas exposed to the sun. Sunscreens do expire, so always check the expiration date to make sure it is still effective.