Healthy Skin Tips for Men
Cancer certainly is a threat to healthy skin, but it’s not the only one. Learn more about the different marks you may find on your skin, what that itchy patch could be and how to keep acne at bay. It might be an understatement to say that men can be reluctant to visit the doctor, but these sections will give some tips on knowing when it’s time to see the dermatologist.
- Is it a mole or melanoma? – How to tell the difference between different marks on your skin and what to do if they look suspicious.
- Rashes and itchy skin – What to do when Gold Bond isn’t enough. That rash could be a sign of a skin condition such as psoriasis, rosacea, jock itch or athlete’s foot.
- Adult acne – Unfortunately, it’s more common than anyone would like. The good thing is that you don’t have to live with the breakouts.
Is it a mole or melanoma?
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a mark on your skin is a mole, an age spot or a sign of a more serious condition. Here are some ways to tell the difference and what to do if you spot something suspicious.
Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few. Adults with light skin may have anywhere between 10 to 40 moles. You should not be overly worried about your moles, but remember that few benign moles develop after 30 years of age.
A mole on your body has these traits:
- One color – Often brown, but a mole can be tan, black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned or colorless
- Round in shape
- Flat or slightly raised
- Looks the same from month to month
Your moles may not look alike. Even on the same person, moles can differ in size, shape or color. Moles can have hair. Some moles will change slowly over time, possibly even disappearing.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. They develop on the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles and palms and even under the nails.
Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can grow in or near a mole. If it’s caught early and treated, melanoma can be cured. The first sign of melanoma is often a change to a mole or a new mole on your skin. Checking your skin regularly can help you find melanoma early.
Melanoma is considered the most lethal form of skin cancer because it can rapidly spread to the lymph system and internal organs. If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a dermatologist immediately.
A – Asymmetry . One half is unlike the other half.
B – Border . An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
C – Color . Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black; is sometimes red, white or blue.
D – Diameter . Melanomas are usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but some may be smaller.
E – Evolving . A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Non-melanoma skin cancers
More than 2 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, and that’s just in the United States . Besides melanoma, there are two other common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It most often appears on skin that gets a lot of sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands and arms. You will find BCCs on other parts of the body, too.
BCC often grows slowly. It may look like a:
- Reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal
- Flesh-colored (or pink, red or brown) pearl-shaped lump
- Scar that feels waxy — may be skin-colored, white or yellow
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a very common type of skin cancer. It often appears on skin that gets a lot of sun, such as an ear, face, bald scalp, neck or arm. But it can appear elsewhere. Too much sun is often the cause, but it is not the only one. SCC can appear on skin that was badly burned, had lots of radiation (such as x-rays) or was exposed to strong chemicals.
SCC often has a reddish color. Without treatment, it can grow deeply. If this happens, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. This can be deadly. SCC often looks like a:
- Hard (scaly or crusty) reddish bump, patch or pearl-shaped growth
- Open sore that itches and bleeds; it can heal and return
- Scaly patch on the lip; skin on the lip can get thick
If it is caught early and properly treated, skin cancer can be cured. A dermatologist selects treatment after considering the type of skin cancer, where it appears on the body, whether it’s aggressive, the stage of the cancer and the patient’s health.
Actinic keratoses (AKs) are dry, scaly, rough-textured patches or lesions that form on the outermost layer of the skin after years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, such as sunlight. These lesions typically range in color from skin-toned to reddish brown and in size from that of a pinhead to larger than a quarter. Occasionally, a lesion grows to resemble an animal horn and is called a “cutaneous horn.”
It is important that anyone with AKs be under a dermatologist’s care. AKs are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer and have the potential to progress to squamous cell carcinoma. Anyone who develops AKs has extensive sun-damaged skin. This makes one more susceptible to other forms of skin cancer, including melanoma.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
Rashes and itchy skin
Dry skin is common and can occur at any age for many reasons. Using a moisturizer often helps repair dry skin. If it doesn’t, or if dry skin develops into a rash, you may need a dermatologist’s help to get relief. Here is more information about rashes and other “itchy skin” conditions—psoriasis, rosacea, jock itch and athlete’s foot.
Rashes are generally caused by skin irritation, which can have many causes. A rash is generally a minor problem that may go away with home treatment. In some cases a rash does not go away or the skin may become so irritated that medical care is needed.
In adults, rashes are often caused by contact with a substance that irritates the skin. The rash usually starts within 48 hours after contact. You may experience mild redness of the skin or a rash of small red bumps. A more severe reaction may cause swelling, redness and larger blisters.
Common causes include poisonous plants; soaps, detergents, shampoos or cosmetics; jewelry or fabrics; new tools, appliances or other objects; and latex.
A rash could be a sign of a chronic skin problem, such as psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting disease that develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks. The body doesn’t shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear. It is not contagious.
What you see and feel depends on the type of psoriasis you have:
- Plaque : Causes thick patches of skin that are covered with silvery-white scale.
- Guttate : Causes small spots that can show up all over the skin.
- Pustular : Causes pus-filled bumps that usually appear on the foot or hand.
- Inverse : Develops in areas where skin touches skin, such as the armpit.
- Erythrodermic : Can cause the skin to look like it is badly burned.
Treatment can reduce signs and symptoms of psoriasis. Some people see their skin completely clear.
Thanks to ongoing research, there are many treatments for psoriasis. It is important to work with a dermatologist to find a treatment that works for you and fits your lifestyle. Every treatment has benefits, drawbacks, and possible side effects.
- Topical (applied to the skin) – Mild to moderate psoriasis. Some effective products include Cutar Emulsion and Tarsum shampoo.
- Phototherapy (light, usually ultraviolet, applied to the skin) – Moderate to severe psoriasis
- Systemic (taken orally or by injection or infusion) – Moderate, severe or disabling psoriasi
Discussing your treatment options with a dermatologist will help determine which is right for you.
Rosacea is a common skin disease that often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest and back can be red all the time.
Rosacea can cause more than redness. There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea : Redness, flushing, visible blood vessels
- Papulopustular rosacea : Redness, swelling and acne-like breakouts
- Phymatous rosacea : Skin thickens and has a bumpy texture
- Ocular rosacea : Eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen and person may have what looks like a stye
While there is no cure for rosacea, treatment can help relieve symptoms. Studies show that when people have fewer signs and symptoms of rosacea, their quality of life improves.
Treatment for the skin includes:
Rosacea can cause more than redness. There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes:
- Medicine that is applied to the rosacea
- Sunscreen (wearing it every day can help prevent flare-ups)
- An emollient to help repair the skin
- Lasers and other light treatments
- Antibiotics (applied to the skin and pills by mouth)
Dermatologists can remove the thickening skin that appears on the nose and other parts of the face with:
- Dermabrasion (procedure that removes skin)
- Electrocautery (procedure that sends electric current into the skin to treat it)
When rosacea affects the eyes, a dermatologist may give you instructions for washing the eyelids several times a day and a prescription for eye medicine.
Jock Itch and Athlete’s Foot
Jock itch is an infection of the groin area caused by fungus. It occurs mostly in adult men and adolescent boys. The fungus that causes jock itch thrives in warm, moist areas. Jock itch can be triggered by friction from clothes and prolonged wetness in the groin area (such as from sweating).
Athlete’s foot is an infection of the feet caused by fungus. Athlete’s foot may last for a short or long time and may come back after treatment.
The most common symptom is cracked, flaking, peeling skin between the toes. The affected area is usually red and itchy. You may feel burning or stinging, and there may be blisters, oozing or crusting. In addition to the toes, the symptoms can also occur on the heels, palms and between the fingers.
Your risk for getting athlete’s foot increases if you wear closed shoes, especially if they are plastic-lined; keep your feet wet for prolonged periods of time; sweat a lot; and develop a minor skin or nail injury.
Jock itch and athlete’s foot usually respond to self-care within a couple of weeks.
- Keep the skin clean and dry.
- Don’t wear clothing or shoes that rub and irritate the area.
- Wear clean, cotton socks and change as often as necessary to keep feet dry.
- Apply topical over-the-counter antifungal or drying powders, such as those that contain miconazole, clotrimazole or tolnaftate. Triple Paste AF is a powerful antifungal.
Severe infections, frequently recurring infections or infections lasting longer than two weeks may require further treatment by your doctor. Stronger prescription medications or oral antifungals may be needed. Antibiotics may be needed to treat bacterial infections that occur in addition to the fungus (for example, from scratching the area).
Source: American Academy of Dermatology and the National Center for Biotechnology Information
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States . And it’s not just for teens anymore. Adult acne can be particularly frustrating because treatment that worked so well during your teen years is often ineffective. It also takes longer to resolve in adults than in teenagers.
Women are more susceptible to the two types of adult acne, but men also suffer from it.
Acne that doesn’t clear by your mid-20s is called persistent acne . It often causes deep-seated, tender, inflamed pimples and nodules. Persistent acne tends to form on the lower face, predominately around the mouth, on the chin and along the jawline.
Adults also develop late-onset acne. People who have not had acne for years can suddenly see deep-seated, inflamed pimples and nodules. Even those who have never had acne can get it later in life. Adult-onset acne generally forms on the chin, jawline and around the mouth. Lesions can appear on the chest and back.
Regardless of age, acne develops when excess sebum (an oil that our bodies produce to naturally moisturize the skin), skin cells and bacteria accumulate. Researchers have discovered several factors that can trigger this in adults: fluctuating hormones, taking certain medications, stress, a family history of acne and certain products used on the face or skin.
Most cases of adult acne can be controlled effectively. Often combination therapy (the use of two or more treatments), a dermatologist’s help and a bit of patience are required.
At-home treatment: Many people can treat mild acne with products that you can buy without a prescription. A product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid often clears the skin over time, not overnight. At-home treatment requires 4-8 weeks to see improvement. Once acne clears, you must continue to treat the skin to prevent breakouts.
If you have a lot of acne, cysts or nodules, an over-the-counter product may not work. Dermatologists offer the following types of treatment:
Acne treatment that you apply to the skin: Most acne treatments are applied to the skin. There are many topical acne treatments. Some topicals help kill the bacteria. Others work on reducing the oil. The topical medicine may contain a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic or even salicylic acid. Vanoxide and Obagi Tretinoin are examples of two effective topical treatments. Your dermatologist will determine what you need.
Acne treatment that works throughout the body: Medicine that works throughout the body may be necessary when you have red, swollen types of acne. This type of treatment is usually necessary to treat acne cysts and nodules. Your dermatologist may prescribe one or more of these:
- Antibiotics (helps to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation)
- Medicine that works on hormones
- Isotretinoin (the only treatment that works on all causes of acne)
Procedures that treat acne: Your dermatologist may treat your acne with a procedure that can be performed during an office visit. These treatments include:
- Lasers and other light therapies: These devices reduce the bacteria that lead to acne.
- Chemical peels: Dermatologists use chemical peels to treat two types of acne — blackheads and papules.
- Acne removal: Your dermatologist may perform a procedure called “drainage and extraction” to remove a large acne cyst. This procedure helps when the cyst does not respond to medicine. It also helps ease the pain and the chance that the cyst will leave a scar. If you absolutely have to get rid of a cyst quickly, your dermatologist may inject the cyst with medicine.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology