All of the board-certified dermatologists seeing online patients on DermatologistOnCall® are trained in diagnosing and treating the nearly 3,000 diseases and conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. Whether it’s treating acne online or doing online spot-checks for skin cancer concerns, our online dermatologists have got you covered.

Common conditions that our dermatologists see and diagnose online include, but are not limited to:

  • What is acne and what causes it?

    Acne is the most common skin disease, affecting 40-50 million people in the United States every year. It is characterized by unsightly blemishes, pimples, pus bumps, blackheads and whiteheads that can occur on the face, chest, back, shoulders and, occasionally, the upper arms. Sometimes acne produces painful cysts and nodules. It can affect both adolescents as well as adults.

    The exact cause of acne is unknown, but there are many recognized contributing factors, including: overactive oil glands, plugged skin pores, overgrowth of bacteria, and inflammation.

    How is acne treated?

    While acne can cause physical and emotional problems, there are solutions. A treatment plan, prescribed by a board-certified dermatologist, will reasonably clear all but the most resistant cases of acne. Patients may see results within 4-6 weeks after starting a treatment plan, but it usually takes 8-12 weeks to reasonably clear acne because of the time needed to change the topography of a patient’s skin. Treatment may often combine home skin care, medications, and dietary changes.

    The baseline for treating mild to moderate acne involves using a topical benzoyl peroxide, a topical retinoid (a Vitamin A derivative) and an 8-12 week tapering course using an oral antibiotic, usually of the tetracycline family. Once oral antibiotic therapy is finished, it’s important to continue to use topical therapies that will keep the skin relatively clear. For patients with more severe acne, other therapies, including isotretinoin, may be necessary.

    Get acne care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can get a personalized care plan to treat acne from our online network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What is actinic keratosis and what causes it?

    Actinic keratosis is a common precancerous skin lesion caused by years of chronic sun exposure. It is characterized by red, rough and scaling patches on sun-exposed skin that may progress to raised bumps or horn-like growths. Anyone who has experienced significant exposure to the sun can develop an actinic keratosis, and repeated exposure to the sun, spending time outdoors without sun protection, and living longer all increase the likelihood of developing actinic keratosis.

    How is actinic keratosis treated?

    Several therapies can be successfully used to treat actinic keratosis, including cryosurgery, topical chemotherapy, topical sodium gels, topical immunotherapy, and photodynamic therapy.

    Get a skin cancer spot-check now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If you have a skin lesion that concerns you, you can get it quickly spot-checked through an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist. Start your visit as soon as possible, since early detection is key!

  • What is athlete’s foot and what causes it?

    Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection. Approximately 70 percent of the population—most often adult men—may be susceptible to this condition. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is commonly found on carpets, pool decks, locker room floors, and in communal showers.

    Factors contributing to the development of athlete’s foot include wearing occlusive footwear, heat, excessive perspiration, and maceration that cause skin breakdowns. Other predisposing factors include tropical climates, poor hygiene, subpar nutrition, a history of atopy (hyper-allergic), and contact with infected animals or people.

    How is athlete’s foot treated?

    Most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter medications. If the condition persists, toenail or fingernail fungal infections can occur. A prescription from a board-certified dermatologist is necessary to treat a fungal infection.

    Get athlete’s foot care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can get a personalized care plan to treat athlete’s foot from our online network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What is basal cell carcinoma and what causes it?

    Basal cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer, and are characterized by pearly, raised pimple-like growths with superficial blood vessels. Over time these lesions tend to erode centrally, forming a non-healing sore. Sometimes a basal cell carcinoma will spontaneously bleed.

    Fair-skinned people over 40 years old, with blue or green eyes and of Northern European descent (English, Irish, Scottish or German), have the greatest risk of developing a basal cell carcinoma, especially if they have a significant history of sun exposure. Other risk factors include a positive family history of the disease, a tendency to sunburn, and frequent use of tanning salons or other forms of artificial tanning.

    How is basal cell carcinoma treated?

    Before treating this condition, a confirming skin biopsy is necessary. Treatment of basal cell carcinomas is determined by the size and location of the tumor, tumor type, and the patient’s medical profile. Typically done through outpatient procedures, treatments range from medications to excisional surgeries, and radiation and cryosurgery.

    Get a skin cancer spot-check now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If you have a skin lesion that concerns you, you can get it quickly spot-checked through an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist who can examine an image of it and determine if it requires further in-office evaluation. Start your online visit as soon as possible, since early detection is key!

  • What are chronic hives and what is the cause?

    Chronic hives, clinically known as chronic urticaria, are common vascular skin reactions marked by the temporary appearance of red to flesh-colored plaques (also known as wheals). They are considered chronic if they are present each day for at least 6 weeks. Individual lesions generally last less than 24 hours before disappearing. Hives often result in moderate to severe itching. It can sometimes be accompanied by angioedema, which can be areas of swelling particularly on the face.

    In approximately 80% of patients, the cause of this condition is unknown. Chronic hives can be triggered by the following: food additives, medications, chronic infections, internal inflammatory conditions, dust, animal dander, pollen, and insect bites/stings.

    How are chronic hives treated?

    Chronic hives are usually treated by identifying and removing the offending or suspected trigger. This may involve reviewing any new or changes to medications, diet/food changes, environmental exposures, or other underlying systemic causes. Your dermatologist may treat the hives symptomatically with topical corticosteroids and oral antihistamines to reduce itching, new lesion formation, and inflammation.

    Any shortness of breath or swelling of the tongue or lips should be immediately addressed by your nearest emergency room.

    Get chronic hives care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can get a diagnosis and personalized care plan for chronic hives from our network of online board-certified dermatologists. However, hives that do not respond to an initial treatment plan and continue to appear for several more weeks may require a more involved in-office consultation and evaluation with a dermatologist.

  • What is a cold sore and what causes it?

    Cold sores, or infections of the lips, mouth, gums, cheeks, nose or neck, are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Following initial exposure (which may or may not result in symptoms), 20-45% of people will experience recurrent cold sores.

    Most cold sores are contracted through exposure to a personal contact who also is infected. Exposure can occur through direct contact with lesions, viruses that contain fluid in people with no evidence of active disease, or respiratory droplets.

    Following an incubation period that lasts 3-12 days, patients break out in painful grouped blisters on a red base. Patients also experience swollen lymph nodes, fevers, headaches, generalized aching and sore throats over 7-10 days.

    How is a cold sore treated?

    Many patients alleviate the discomfort from cold sores by using over-the-counter products. A board-certified dermatologist can provide personalized care for individual cases.

    Get cold sore care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can get a personalized care plan online for cold sores from our network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What is eczema and what causes it?

    Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease. The primary characteristic of atopic dermatitis is intense itching, which leads to scratching and, eventually, rash formation.

    Atopic dermatitis is an inherited skin disorder, and patients with the condition tend to be more prone to dryness and skin irritation; have a reduced protective barrier; and suffer from skin water loss. People with this condition also have an increased likelihood of developing bacterial, fungal and viral skin infections.

    How is eczema treated?

    There is no definitive cure for atopic dermatitis, but there are many excellent treatments that can improve the skin and keep a patient relatively clear. Atopic dermatitis is best treated through topical steroids, sometimes in combination with topical non-corticosteroid treatments. Moisturizers, including CeraVe and Cetaphil lotions, help keep skin hydrated.

    Get eczema care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can get an eczema diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan from our online network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What are genital herpes and what causes the condition?

    Genital herpes simplex is a common sexually transmitted disease. Following an incubation period that ranges 2-20 days, patients start to break out in painful groups of blisters on a red base. Other symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, generalized aching, malaise, or feeling run down.

    Most cases of genital herpes are caused by the Type II herpes simplex virus. But for younger people who are sexually active, up to 25-30% of new cases of genital herpes are caused by the Type I herpes simplex “cold sore” virus that is spread through oral-to-genital contact. Most cases of genital herpes are contracted through sexual exposure to a person who also is infected. Factors that cause recurrences of genital herpes include emotional stress, hormone changes during the menstrual cycle, physical trauma to the skin, and other systemic illnesses or infections.

    How are genital herpes treated?

    While there is no permanent cure, genital herpes simplex can be satisfactorily treated with oral antiviral therapy. Topical steroids and antiviral therapy reduces inflammation and speeds healing. Topical and oral antibiotics also can be used for suspected cases of secondary bacterial infection. Pain can be managed through the use of over-the-counter acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.

    Get genital herpes care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. This condition can be quite embarrassing to many patients, so conducting a private online visit for genital herpes with a board-certified dermatologist may be ideal for both initial diagnosis and ongoing management of flare-ups.

  • What is hair loss and what causes it?

    When baldness occurs, the most common cause is hereditary hair loss, a medical condition that affects 80 million men and women in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Also known as male/female pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, this type of hair loss usually occurs in hormone-dependent regions of the scalp, including the front portion, the crown and the top of the head between the ears.

    Other factors that may cause hair loss include: hair treatments that “stress” hair (i.e. perms and excessive use of dyes and relaxers), cancer treatments, eating disorders, thyroid disease, childbirth, major surgery, or a diet that lacks protein, certain prescription drugs, hormone imbalances, and birth control use.

    How is hair loss treated?

    Hair loss can be treated with varying outcomes. The Federal Drug Administration has approved topical Rogaine and oral Propecia to combat hair loss. Hair transplant surgery is an option, and scalp reduction surgery can be used to instantly reduce the balding effect.

    Get hair loss care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. An online board-certified dermatologist can evaluate your hair and scalp and prescribe a treatment plan for you.

  • What is impetigo and what causes it?

    Impetigo is a common and contagious superficial bacterial skin infection that is transmitted via person-to-person contact. This condition mostly affects infants and young children, although all age groups can be affected.

    Impetigo most often occurs on the face around the nose and mouth, although any exposed body area can be affected. Infants may be susceptible in groin folds and diaper areas. The blistering form of impetigo can be found on normal skin regions, including the nasal entryway, underarms, groin, and the webbed areas between the fingers and toes. The non-blistering type is not usually found on intact skin.

    How is impetigo treated?

    Impetigo is treated with antibiotic ointment, cream or pills depending on the severity. If a patient follows the prescriptions as prescribed, most sores will be completely healed in one week.

    Get impetigo care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can quickly get a diagnosis and personalized care plan to treat impetigo from our online network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What is jock itch and what causes it?

    Jock itch, clinically known as tinea cruris, is a superficial fungal infection that most often affects adult men. Infections can range from being completely asymptomatic to very itchy, and slowly spreading and migrating with a snakelike raised and scaling border. The skin within this border is reddish brown with a fine scale.

    Jock itch starts on the groin region and extends onto the upper thighs. Predisposing factors include heat, excessive perspiration, rubbing, friction, and maceration. Tropical climates, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, and underlying disease states, such as diabetes, also are factors to the development of jock itch.

    How is jock itch treated?

    Most cases of jock itch can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Treatment of fungal-related jock itch may typically include one or a combination of antifungal shampoos to wash the groin, antifungal creams, and rarely, antifungal pills. Treatment of jock itch that is not caused by fungus involves proper groin area hygiene, including keeping the area clean and dry, and washing frequently with gentle soap and water (especially after sweating or exercise).

    Get jock itch care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can privately get a precise diagnosis and personalized care plan to treat jock itch online from our network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What is keratosis pilaris and what causes it?

    Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common, harmless and non-contagious skin condition that can often be confused with body acne. KP causes dry, rough pimple-like bumps usually on the upper arms, stomach, back, thighs, and buttocks. The bumps don’t cause any symptoms aside from mainly being cosmetically undesirable for many afflicted.

    Its exact causes are unknown, but there appears to be a strong genetic component. It results from the buildup of a hard protein called keratin that protects the skin, but here builds up in excess so that it blocks the opening of hair follicles on the skin. It can occur at any age, but is more common in young children.

    It often worsens under dry conditions, particularly in the winter.

    How is keratosis pilaris treated?

    KP cannot be cured but can sometimes be effectively managed so that the appearance of the red bumps is reduced. KP can also go through periods of flare-up and remission over the years, or may spontaneously clear up on its own.

    Although treatment is not required, a dermatologist may prescribe a plan that includes medicated lotions, moisturizing lotions, and lifestyle and environmental changes.

    Get keratosis pilaris care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. You can quickly get a precise diagnosis and personalized care plan to treat keratosis pilaris from our online network of board-certified dermatologists.

  • What is lice and what causes it?

    Head lice are highly contagious and usually spread via contact: sharing hats, caps, combs or brushes, or through other activities that involve head-to-head contact. Breakouts of head lice tend to occur during warmer months, or in school classrooms.

    Body lice is a less common, but no less troubling, condition that mainly affects adults. Homeless people or people living in poor socioeconomic conditions caused by poverty, natural disasters, or indigence are most prone to body lice.

    How is lice treated?

    Body and head lice both can be treated with over-the-counter permethrin 1% rinse, prescription permethrin 5% cream (used only when permethrin 1% rinse fails), Lindane or Kwell shampoo, and topical 0.5% Malathion lotion. All treatments for lice should be repeated within a week because younger lice may not be eradicated after the first treatment. Close family members and household contacts should also undergo treatment.

    Getting lice treatment

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. Diagnosing lice cannot be done effectively online and involves making a trip to a dermatologist, primary care, or even urgent care center, as it requires physical in-person examination, often using a fine-toothed louse comb to locate and identify live lice.

  • What is lichen planus and what causes it?

    Lichen planus is a rare, acute or chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by raised and poly-angular purple elevations and plaques. This condition is more often seen in women than men, and most typically affects patients between 30-60 years old.

    Lichen planus may affect the skin on the wrists, ankles, or the scalp (including hair follicles). This condition also may become more widespread and affect the trunk or genital areas. Rarely, lichen planus affects fingernails and toenails. When lichen planus appears, it can last for two or more years. Its skin lesions can be variable, ranging from completely asymptomatic to severely itchy.

    It can be caused by surgical trauma to the skin, tattooing, or other trauma to the skin.

    How is lichen planus treated?

    Topical steroids are the mainstays of treatment for lichen planus, usually in a two week on/two week off cycle, to reduce inflammation and itching, and to speed healing. Short tapering courses of internal or oral systemic steroids are used for rapid control and resolution of this condition, especially in severe cases and when oral or genital areas are affected.

    Get lichen planus care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. An online board-certified dermatologist can diagnose whether you have lichen planus and prescribe a personalized treatment plan.

  • What is melanoma and what causes it?

    Melanomas are the most serious form of skin cancer that can affect anyone, at any time, on any part of the body. Most melanomas appear as new, changing or unusual looking moles. Once a melanoma reaches the thickness of a quarter (approximately 2 mm), it usually has spread.

    Those most at risk of acquiring a melanoma include individuals over 50 years old; people with blue or green eyes, or red or blonde hair; those who have 50 or more moles, large moles or atypical-looking moles; and those with a family history with a melanoma or another common type of skin cancer.

    How is melanoma treated?

    Early detection is critical. It is important to look for and monitor any new or rapidly growing moles, or moles that begin to itch, bleed or change in color or shape. It is also important to note that melanomas may present as small pink bumps; they don’t necessarily have to be dark, black and ugly appearing moles.

    Symptoms of melanomas can be recognized by using the ABCDE model:

    • Asymmetric shape
    • Borders that are notched or jigsaw puzzle-like
    • Color variations
    • Diameter greater than 6 mm
    • Evolution or change in the nature of the mole or lesion

    A dermatologist may opt to remove and biopsy suspicious moles to rule out melanomas.

    Get a skin cancer spot-check now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If you have a mole or skin blemish that concerns you, you can get it quickly spot-checked through an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist who can examine an image of it and determine if it requires further in-office evaluation. Start your online visit as soon as possible, since early detection is key!

  • What is melasma and what causes it?

    Melasma occurs when the face and neck are exposed to excessive sunlight, causing the skin to acquire a brown hyperpigmentation with no other symptoms other than being cosmetically bothersome. Melasma mostly occurs in women, particularly those of Mediterranean, African, Hispanic, and Asian descent. Melasma develops slowly, usually starting on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin before spreading to other areas. The coloring of the skin can range from light to dark brown.

    This condition is caused by multiple factors, including genetic disposition, use of oral contraceptives, and hormonal activity during pregnancy (it’s often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”). Exposure to the sun, ultraviolet light sources, and heat can trigger or worsen the condition.

    How is melasma treated?

    During pregnancy, melasma usually begins during the third trimester, and fades slowly during the months following delivery. Melasma also may fade spontaneously following discontinuation of oral contraceptives.

    Treatment of melasma is directed at sun protection, the use of sunscreens, avoiding tanning, and lightening the affected skin with a variety of topical over-the-counter and prescription products. Melasma can take between eight weeks and a year to satisfactorily improve. For resistant cases, your dermatologist may consider chemical peels, cryosurgery or laser therapy.

    Get melasma care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. An online board-certified dermatologist can diagnose whether you have melasma and prescribe a personalized treatment plan.

  • What are moles and what causes them?

    Known clinically as nevi, moles are benign growths of pigment producing cells. Moles mainly affect Caucasians, who average between 15-30 moles on various parts of their bodies.

    Moles usually occur because of a person’s inherited or genetic disposition. Exposure to sun early in life also may create conditions conducive to mole development.

    How are moles treated?

    Most moles are asymptomatic and benign. Larger, raised moles may sometimes be removed by a dermatologist, particularly if they are in a troublesome area such as on an area of the body that is shaved or encounters friction.

    Moles should be closely monitored for changes that might signal precancerous and cancerous conditions. Dermatologists follow the ABCDE rule to track changes, looking for:

    • Asymmetric shape
    • Borders that are notched or jigsaw puzzle-like
    • Color variations
    • Diameter greater than 6 mm
    • Evolution or change in the nature of the mole or lesion

    Dermatologists may monitor moles or biopsy them for further analysis, and sometimes surgical removal is necessary.

    Get a mole skin cancer spot-check now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If you have a mole that concerns you, you can get it quickly spot-checked through an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist who can examine an image of it and determine if it requires further in-office evaluation. Start your online visit as soon as possible, since early detection is key!

  • What is molluscum contagiosum and what causes it?

    Molluscum contagiosum is a common and mild viral skin infection that presents as flesh-colored and firm bumps (about the size of an eraser on a pencil) with a central depression typically on the lower half of the body. It generally affects three groups: children, sexually active adults, and immune suppressed patients who have an HIV infection, sarcoidosis, leukemia, or have undergone an organ transplant.

    It’s more prevalent in warmer climates and in crowded living conditions, and it’s acquired from direct contact with people having the skin disease, or indirect contact via contaminated objects such as towels, washcloths and sponges, or outbreaks in swimming pools. Lesions appear 2-8 weeks after exposure.

    Rubbing, picking, friction and shaving can spread this condition.

    How is molluscum contagiosum treated?

    Treatment of molluscum contagiosum is based on age, the number of lesions, body location, and whether or not the patient is immune suppressed. Treatment options include cryotherapy, simple curettage (scraping), or various topical therapies. After a patient develops immunity to the virus that causes molluscum contagiosum, the lesions disappear between 2-9 months after they develop.

    Get molluscum contagiosum care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. An online board-certified dermatologist can diagnose whether you have molluscum contagiosum and determine a personalized treatment plan.

  • What is poison ivy and what causes it?

    Poison ivy (along with poison oak and poison sumac) is the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in the United States. Approximately 80% of the people who come into contact with these plants develop an allergic rash. Indirect contact, via clothing, animal fur, smoke from burning the plant, or inanimate objects, also may cause this condition. There is usually an incubation period of between 5-21 days before rashes appear. Repeat exposures cause rashes to appear more quickly (between 12-48 hours).

    Itching is the primary complication of poison ivy and can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

    How is poison ivy treated?

    Washing the skin with soap and water within 15-30 minutes of exposure can inactivate and reduce the severity of the rash. Treatment of poison ivy is designed to reduce itching and inflammation. To minimize the symptoms, wash the skin twice daily with a mild soap and apply cool compresses or Burow’s Solution (an over-the-counter astringent) for 15-20 minutes several times daily for 7-10 days. You can also try over-the-counter Sarna mentholated lotion several times per day, as needed, for itching.

    If left untreated, poison ivy can last from 10 days to 3 weeks.

    Get poison ivy care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If at-home care and over-the-counter remedies are not helping the poison ivy rash, it’s probably best to confirm the poison ivy diagnosis and get a personalized treatment plan from a dermatologist.

  • What is psoriasis and what causes it?

    Psoriasis is a common, incurable and chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects approximately 7.5 million people in the United States. It is characterized by thick, red, scaling plaques that are covered by a flaky, white buildup of dead skin scales. Psoriasis can be so mild that patients don’t realize they have the condition. It can also be severe, covering larger areas of the body and the joints.

    Psoriasis is not contagious. The exact cause is unknown, but it is both a hyper-proliferative and inflammatory/autoimmune skin disorder that tends to be hereditary. T-cells, a type of white blood cell, are mistakenly activated, causing the skin to grow too rapidly. Normally, the skin replaces itself every 30 days; for people with psoriasis, the skin is replaced over 3-4 days.

    It most often occurs between the ages of 15-25, or between the ages of 45-55. Psoriasis also can affect infants and the elderly, and strikes both genders equally. Flare-ups can be triggered by a number of factors, including stress and anxiety, recent infections such as strep throat, exposure to certain medicines, smoking, and excessive alcohol.

    How is psoriasis treated?

    There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are a number of excellent treatment options that help keep lesions relatively clear most of the time. Treatment usually involves a combination of topical therapies in the form of corticosteroids, Vitamin D, immunomodulators (Protopic ointment and Elidel cream), and moisturizers. Biologics, a new class of protein-based drugs derived from living cells, are sometimes used to treat severe cases of psoriasis.

    Psoriasis tends to improve during the spring and summer with exposure to sunlight and worsen in the fall and winter when exposure to sunlight decreases.

    Get psoriasis care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. An online board-certified dermatologist can diagnose whether you have psoriasis and its degree of severity, and determine a personalized treatment plan, as well as be seen for ongoing check-ups to evaluate treatment effectiveness.

  • What is ringworm and what causes it?

    Ringworm, also known as tinea corporis, is a superficial fungal infection of the skin that starts as round, flat pimples that form an oval ring with a raised, expanding and scaling border. The lesions can also be very itchy. Ringworm usually appears on the face, arms, shoulders, legs and trunk.

    Factors contributing to the development of ringworm include hot and humid climates, contact with infected animals or people, and contaminated surfaces, including floors, exercise equipment and mats. Ringworm can be aggravated by the use of topical steroids, causing the lesions to expand rapidly and extend.

    How is ringworm treated?

    Most cases of ringworm can be successfully treated with topical antifungal creams and gels. To alleviate the itching caused by ringworm, patients can take over-the-counter Benadryl as needed and before bedtime.

    Because it is contagious, clothing, towels, bedding, and athletic apparel should be changed frequently and laundered with hot water and care should be taken around direct contact with others.

    Get ringworm care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If at-home care and over-the-counter remedies are not helping ringworm, it’s probably best to confirm the ringworm diagnosis and get a personalized treatment plan from a dermatologist.

  • What is rosacea and what causes it?

    Rosacea, often confused with adult acne, is a common skin disease characterized by acne-like symptoms including redness of the skin, pus bumps, papules (small, solid, raised skin lesions), and swelling of the face. When rosacea first occurs, the redness may come and go in a manner similar to flushing and blushing. As it progresses, this condition tends to become thickened and scarred with small, multiple, and superficial blood vessels. Rosacea can last for years and rarely reverses itself.

    Approximately 50% of patients with rosacea will experience a degree of eye involvement, or conjunctivitis, that is characterized burning or grittiness. If conjunctivitis is not treated, serious complications may occur.

    The exact cause of rosacea is unknown but it could be the result of a mix of hereditary and environmental factors. Rosacea most often affects adults between 30-50 years old. A number of triggers can flare up or worsen rosacea, including heat or cold, exercise, hot or spicy foods and beverages, alcohol, stress, certain cosmetic ingredients, and certain medications.

    How is rosacea treated?

    Because there is no definitive cure, maintenance therapy and adherence to a long-term treatment plan is essential. Symptoms can be managed by options that may include topical prescription medications, oral prescription medications, sunscreen use, trigger avoidance, and laser surgery. It generally takes 8-12 weeks to reduce or clear rosacea.

    While there is no universally effective therapy for rosacea, a treatment plan is best developed with a dermatologist based on the degree of severity for each rosacea case.

    Get rosacea care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. An online board-certified dermatologist can diagnose whether you have rosacea (vs. adult acne or other conditions) and its degree of severity, and determine a personalized treatment plan, as well as be seen for ongoing check-ups to evaluate treatment effectiveness.

  • What is scabies and what causes it?

    Scabies is a skin infestation caused by small mites burrowing beneath the skin, resulting in generalized itching and a rash. This itchy condition commonly affects children under the age of 5, young adults through skin-on-skin contact, and elderly patients who are bedridden in nursing homes, hospitals or other institutional care environments. Scabies is observed more frequently in impoverished or crowded living situations.

    Patients who have neurological diseases, such as dementia, or are immunosuppressed (with HIV or the human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus) may not feel the itching sensation caused by scabies. This can lead to a thick crusted form of the condition, Norwegian scabies, in which the number of infesting mites can be greater than 1 million. Areas of scratching also can be secondarily infected with Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria, leading to impetigo, cellulitis or pyoderma.

    How is scabies treated?

    The treatment of choice for scabies is topical permethrin, which can be safely used to treat children older than two months and pregnant or nursing females. Anyone living in close proximity to a patient also should be treated to avoid “ping-pong” re-infections.

    If scabies isn’t treated, the condition can last for weeks or months.

    Get scabies care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. Scabies is often misdiagnosed as eczema, insect bites, drug rashes or impetigo. An online board-certified dermatologist can diagnose whether you indeed have scabies and determine a personalized treatment plan.

  • What is seborrheic dermatitis and what causes it?

    Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin eruption characterized by inflammation, itching, and yellow and greasy scaling. Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis. Some cases overlap with psoriasis and lead to general skin scaling, redness and rashes. It occurs on parts of the body that have high concentrations of oil glands, including the scalp, face, chest, upper trunk, and groin.

    People of all backgrounds, races and ages are susceptible to seborrheic dermatitis. Males are more at risk of acquiring seborrheic dermatitis than females. Infants under three months old (where the condition is termed cradle cap) and adults between the ages of 30-60 are most prone to this condition.

    Factors contributing to seborrheic dermatitis include hormonal stimulation, and yeast overgrowth in genetically predisposed patients. It tends to flare in the fall and winter during cooler weather, or when patients experience stressful situations or are fatigued.

    How is seborrheic dermatitis treated?

    The treatment goals for managing seborrheic dermatitis are aimed at reducing scaling, inflammation, itching and yeast on the skin. Cases of mild seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff that present as scaling without itching or inflammation can be treated with over-the-counter dandruff shampoos.

    For inflammatory or symptomatic cases, treatment is based on body location through use of prescription-grade antifungal shampoo or mild topical corticosteroids. Topical non-steroid anti-inflammatory immune modulators also are effective.

    Get seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If over-the-counter dandruff shampoos aren’t resolving the symptoms after a few weeks, or if the condition is more severe, a board-certified dermatologist can diagnose you online and provide a personalized, effective treatment plan.

  • What is shingles and what causes it?

    A painful and contagious rash, shingles is caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus, but the exact trigger that reawakens the virus in healthy people is not clear. Also known as herpes zoster, this condition usually affects people older than 55 years. The majority of patients who have shingles are otherwise healthy.

    Most cases of shingles are preceded by 4-5 days of itching, tingling and a burning sensation. Red and swollen plaques then appear in a linear distribution on one side of the body, studded with blisters of varying sizes. Within 3-4 days, these blisters begin to show a central depression that becomes cloudy and crusts over. Scarring—more common in elderly patients—does not usually occur unless the condition becomes infected with bacteria.

    Shingles can occasionally be triggered by stress, recent infections, dental procedures, incidental trauma, and some medical or spinal procedures. Rarely, shingles is associated with or is a sign of underlying conditions, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

    How is shingles treated?

    There is no cure for shingles, but things can be done to reduce symptoms and shorten the length of the illness and possibility for complications. If treatment is started within 3 days of the shingles rash appearing, the chance of complications is lowered. Treatment options can include antiviral and pain medications, corticosteroids, antidepressants, and topical creams.

    Get shingles care now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. A board-certified dermatologist can diagnose shingles online and provide a personalized, effective treatment plan.

  • What is squamous cell carcinoma and what causes it?

    Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinomas are characterized by raised and red nodules or plaques, with thickened, rolled borders that slowly grow. Over time, squamous cell carcinomas begin to erode centrally, forming a non-healing sore that can spontaneously bleed.

    Commonly, squamous cell carcinomas carcinoma cancer is present on areas of the body that have been exposed to sunlight. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are approximately 700,00 new cases of this every year in the United States.

    People who have fair skin, blue or green eyes, and are of Northern European descent are most susceptible. Those affected range from the middle-aged to the elderly. Men are more prone to acquiring a squamous cell carcinoma than women.

    Some populations have a higher risk of acquiring a squamous cell carcinoma cancer, including those with a family history of this condition, transplant patients, people with chronic venous leg ulcers, those who have undergone PUVA therapy for psoriasis, those with viral warts, and those with a chronic history of sunburns and artificial tanning.

    Other risk factors include smoking, radiation exposure, arsenic ingestion and toxic tar or oil exposure.

    How is squamous cell carcinoma treated?

    Treatment is determined by the size and location of the tumor, tumor type and the patient’s medical profile. A biopsy of a suspicious skin lesion is the first step in addressing this condition. After a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan is developed. Many squamous cell carcinomas can be removed with simple excision, curettage (scraping), or cryosurgery. Mohs micrographic surgery is recommended for more difficult or recurring tumors. Nonsurgical options include radiation or photodynamic therapy. Topical medications may be considered for patients not suited to surgery.

    Get a skin cancer spot-check now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If you have a skin lesion or mark that concerns you, you can get it quickly spot-checked through an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist who can examine an image of it and determine if it requires further in-office evaluation. Start your online visit as soon as possible, since early detection is key!

  • What is sunburn and what causes it?

    Sunburn, the result of exposure to the ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight, affects approximately 42% of people in the United States each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Anyone is susceptible to sunburn under the right conditions.

    Sunburn is characterized by red and tender skin, with occasional blistering. First-degree sunburn usually appears within 2-4 hours after exposure and peaks 14-20 hours later; it lasts between 1-3 days. Skin usually starts to peel within 7-10 days of exposure.

    Severe, or second-degree, sunburn leads to intense pain and blistering, accompanied by fevers, chills and nausea; the range of these symptoms is usually referred to as sun poisoning.

    Sunburns caused by the use of tanning beds may not be evident until 48 hours after exposure and can last much longer than sunburns caused by sun exposure.

    Sunburns of any type may cause skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma), premature aging of the skin or immune suppression.

    How is sunburn treated?

    When diagnosing sunburn, a dermatologist will need to know if there are any predisposing or underlying factors to be addressed, such as medication use and/or systemic illnesses. If you get sunburn, there are things that can help manage the symptoms. Cold compresses, fragrance-free moisturizing lotions, over-the-counter pain medications, and staying away from further sun exposure can all be helpful.

    The best way to stop sunburn is to prevent it by reducing sun exposure, particularly during peak mid-day hours and by avoiding tanning beds. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends, regardless of the time of year or skin type, a broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip balms with UVA and UVB protection and a SPF factor of at least 15 on all areas of exposed skin. It’s especially important to use sunscreen during the spring and summer. Always apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before exposure to sunlight and allow it to dry completely. Reapply sunscreen every 1-2 hours during outdoor activities and after swimming or exercising.

    Get a skin cancer spot-check now

    This description is not meant to serve as a diagnosis. If sun exposure has led to changing moles, new moles, or skin lesions that concerns you, you can get it quickly spot-checked through an online visit with a board-certified dermatologist who can examine an image of it and determine if it requires further in-office evaluation. Start your online visit as soon as possible, since early detection is key!

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