Our skin serves several functions, including
protection, shock absorption, and temperature control.
One in three people in the United States
suffer from some kind of skin disease or condition that
results in disfigurement, pain, disability and even death.
Disorders such as melanoma, acne, and eczema
are so prevalent that their incidence exceeds those of
obesity, hypertension, and cancer.
The most serious skin condition is melanoma, a
potentially deadly cancer that affects 115,000 people every
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Skin is the largest organ in the human body, covering and protecting all
the others. Yet it’s susceptible to a variety of conditions and
disorders that can cause everything from mere discomfort to severe
pain, disfigurement to disability, and even death.
representatives of the Massachusetts Academy of Dermatology, the
state’s professional association of physicians who specialize in
dermatology, the October edition of the Massachusetts Medical
Society’s Physician Focus television program examines the causes,
effects, and treatments of some of the more common skin disorders.
for the program are Louis Kuchnir, M.D., Ph.D., president of the
Academy, and Pamela Weinfeld, M.D., a director of the Academy. Both
are board-certified dermatologists who have established private
practices in the Commonwealth. Dr. Kuchnir founded Kuchnir Dermatology
and Dermatologic Surgery, with offices in Marlborough, Milford, and
Shrewsbury. And Dr. Weinfeld co-founded Dermatology and Skin Care
Associates, located in Wellesley.
the topics they cover in the program are skin cancer, eczema, rosacea,
acne, and “cradle cap,” a condition affecting babies. The
wide-ranging discussion with host and primary care physician Mavis
Jaworski, M.D. also includes descriptions of the various types and
importance of moisturizers and explanations and use of sunscreens and
what SPF numbers – those ratings that serve as a guide to sunscreens
- really mean.
physicians offer particular warnings about skin cancer, the most
common form of cancer in the U.S. Melanoma is the most deadly form,
but is curable if caught early. More common are basal cell and
squamous cell skin cancers, two types that are highly curable. They
caution that patients should be vigilant about overexposure to the
sun, a major cause of these conditions, but shouldn’t stop
activities in the sun if they enjoy them.
should enjoy the activities they like to do,” said Dr. Kuchnir,
“but you don’t have to increase your risk for skin cancer. We have
some wonderful sunscreens today, so finding a sunscreen product
you’re willing to use is the right approach.” Dr. Weinfeld noted
that it’s critical to apply sunscreen correctly – multiple
applications may be needed as one only lasts a few hours. It’s also
important, she said, to check for a sunscreen with ingredients that
block both the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
Kuchnir pointed out that the use of sunscreen is especially vital for
those who have had skin cancer. “Using
sunscreen on a daily basis has been proven to prevent skin cancers up
to 80 percent” of the time in people who have previously had skin
cancer,” he said. He
also called attention to the additional benefits of sunscreen -
preserving the healthy, youthful look of skin and setting an example
for younger people.
the condition or disorder a patient may experience, Dr. Kuchnir has
this important advice: “A very important thing for skin is just to
be aware of what is normal and healthy,” he said. “If a mole
changes, if a sore isn’t healing, if pimples are getting to be way
more than you’re used to, primary care doctors and dermatologists
have a lot of answers, and make sure you know that we can help you if
you need it.”
accompanying video contains more details and discussion on the causes,
conditions, and treatments of skin cancer, eczema, rosacea, and acne.