Year-Round Skin Care by Terry Callahan

“Sun protection habits need to be practiced year-round. Even in the winter months or on overcast days, the sun’s UV rays can cause skin damage leading to a sunburn and skin cancer,” notes Dr. Michael Del Torto, owner/partner of Easton Dermatology Associates. “Dermatology is very gratifying because dermatologists can actually see the improvement in their patient’s condition in response to their prescribed treatment.”
“I was attracted to dermatology because it is a visual field, and I am a very visual person. Dermatologists are trained to diagnose and treat diseases of the hair, skin and nails.” They are trained to treat warts and precancerous growths with liquid nitrogen, biopsy atypical-appearing moles and perform surgery to remove skin cancers and benign lesions such as cysts. Dermatologists also perform cosmetic procedures that address conditions such as wrinkle reduction, unwanted hair and veins, tattoo removal and treatment of acne scars.
Skin care is important year-round as each season brings its own skin care concerns. “Any area of the skin exposed to the sun is at a higher risk for developing skin cancer because the sun’s UV rays cause damage to the cell’s DNA which results in skin cancer,” explains Dr. Del Torto. A common myth is that people with darker skin tones do not get skin cancer. However, people of all skin types can get skin cancer from the sun’s harmful UV rays. “Therefore, everyone needs to practice sun protection.”
“In the summer, sun protection to prevent sunburns and skin cancer is the primary focus. In the fall and winter, proper moisturization to prevent flare-ups of eczema and psoriasis is very important. Finally, in the spring, avoidance of contact allergens such as poison ivy and poison oak is important.”
Hydrating the skin by drinking adequate amounts of water and applying moisturizing lotion daily are needed year-round. Skin protection from the sun includes applying sunscreen (SPF 30 or greater) before and after swimming, reapplying it every two hours, and wearing sun-protective clothing such as broad-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sunglasses. Seeking shaded outdoor areas and avoiding tanning beds (which provide a form of UV exposure) are also beneficial.
Outdoor activity should be avoided during the peak hours of UV intensity, from 10am-4pm. However, since activity promotes better overall health by increasing cardiovascular function and reducing obesity, Dr. Del Torto advises that – “as long as proper sun protection measures are taken to avoid sunburns – outside activities are recommended.”
When the seasons change to cool and cold temperatures, skin needs to be kept warm. This is best done by dressing in layers that can be removed if a person gets overheated. Winter months have lower humidity and higher indoor temperatures, conditions that cause the skin to lose moisture, so hydration and moisturizing continue to be important.
Age is a factor in skin care. “Age definitely affects skin tone, thickness and elasticity. As we age, our skin loses subcutaneous fat and its ability to repair itself from UV-induced damage. This results in wrinkling and increased risk of skin cancer.” Additionally, the tiny blood vessels in the skin called capillaries break more easily and this results in more frequent bruising.
If a person notices a new growth on their skin that is rapidly growing, one that has changed in size, shape or color, or any growth that bleeds or fails to heal, they should see a dermatologist to have the lesion checked by a trained eye.
“At Easton Dermatology Associates, we have a full range of medical and cosmetic services,” says Dr. Del Torto. “About 10% to 20% of my patients come in with a cosmetic concern, and I find it very rewarding to help these patients feel more confident and happier with their appearance.” Sometimes a “cosmetic issue” can be billed as a medical issue, such as laser treatment of acne or acne scarring. Anyone with questions about a cosmetic concern should make an appointment for a consultation.
“I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of being a dermatologist,” adds Dr. Del Torto. “I enjoy the intellectual challenge of diagnosing and treating rare skin disorders. I also find it very gratifying to see the transformation that occurs in a patient with low self-esteem from acne or psoriasis after they are successfully treated. I enjoy seeing pictures of the children and grandchildren of the melanoma survivors that I have treated. Most of all, I enjoy the day-to-day interactions I have with my patients. Being a dermatologist is the greatest job in the world!”
For more information, Easton Dermatology Associates can be contacted at 410-819-8867 or visit www.eastondermatology.com .