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Skin Glossary


Scabies is a condition caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei itch mite. Patients afflicted can complain of intense itching especially at night, accompanied by papules, pustules or vesicles on the skin. For the scabies mite to pass onto to others, close physical contact must occur or is transmitted through clothing or linens worn and used by the afflicted individual. Treatment entails use of a topical cream or lotion, sometimes  requiring more than 1 treatment as well as treating the environment. Pruritus can still remain up to 4 weeks even after a person has been treated.

Shingles is an acute skin condition characterized by what starts out as a skin rash progressing with vesicules following a dermatome to the midline of the body, and usually accompanied by pain. It is caused by reactivation of varicella virus.

A skin biopsy is a procedure which entails injection of a painkiller and obtaining a skin sample for laboratory analysis. Different types of skin biopsies include shave, punch and excisional through the use of different instruments. Skin biopsies help to diagnose tumors as well as skin rashes.

Skin tags are benign tumors commonly found along the neck, underarms and groin areas. They are soft and range from flesh color to tan brown and though benign, can sometimes become inflamed or irritated by clothing or wearing of jewelry.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma or SCC is a type of skin cancer of the keratinocytes. SCC tumors grow by expanding and invading the surrounding tissues and structures. SCC can spread to other areas of the body via the lymph or through the blood. Treatment depends upon whether the tumor is contained locally or has signs of metastasis or spread.

Sunscreens are topicals which contain chemical actives to help absorb the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. Sunscreen actives in the US include cinnamates, benzophenones, salicylates, PABA, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Sunscreens are labelled with SPF or sun protection factor which helps to tell us how much time it takes for our skin to burn from UVB rays on skin with sunscreen versus skin without sunscreen. If it takes 5 minutes for you to sunburn, SPF 15 protects offers you 75 minutes of protection before getting sunburned or 15 times longer than your skin without sunscreen protection.

A suntan is the physiologic process resulting from exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light rays. Sunlight stimulates melanin production by our pigment cells or melanocytes. Melanin is produced to further protect us from ultraviolet sun damage. This process over several days is what gives you tanned skin.