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Archive for January, 2012



Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Dr. Shavin ” do I have shingles?”. This is a question all of us at Gwinnett Dermatology frequently hear. More often than not the answer is “no.” However, this is not a rare problem and we see many patients with shingles.

Let me spend a little time explaining this disorder. First of all the medical term is Herpes Zoster. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. When one has chickenpox the virus lies dormant in our nervous system for years. If there is a let down in our immune surveillance system the virus can activate and result in a rash that typically involves an area of skin on one side only. the rash lasts for 2 to 3 weeks and slowly heals often leaving discoloration or even scars.

Anyone of any age can get shingles although it is more common with advancing age. There is excellent treatment for the rash if we are able to see you within 72 hours of onset; however, the more serious problem is PAIN! Some patients develop severe and long lasting pain requiring pain control specialists.

Other factors that predispose patients to developing shingles are those who have weakened immune systems. This may include patients with AIDS,transplant patients, cancer, or people undergoing cancer therapy.

Shingles can be contagious and may even transmit chickenpox to an unvaccinated person.

The take home message is to be sure and get into our office with any painful rash on one side. Also, I would urge all patients over age 50 to get the shingles vaccine.

Joel S. Shavin,MD

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New Year Resolutions for Your Skin

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

With a New Year comes the opportunity to be proactive in your skincare.  Here are five resolutions to benefit your skin:

  1. Use Sunscreen – the sun causes more problems for your skin than any other environmental factor – wrinkles, freckles, other unsightly blemishes AND skin cancers.  Use a moisturizer with sunscreen every morning and make sure to put on a full sunscreen prior to prolonged sun exposure.
  2. Moisturize – Dry skin predisposes to a myriad of problems.  Use a good moisturizing cream once to twice a day, especially after showering.
  3. Perform Skin Self-Examinations Monthly – Monitor your skin for changes in moles or new lesions, especially ones that bleed spontaneously or hurt.
  4. Gently Cleanse Your Skin – Harsh cleansers and soaps can dry out the skin and cause eczema and other skin problems. Use mild/moisturizing soaps and cleansers in your daily skin care.
  5. Don’t Procrastinate – If you notice a problem or suspicious lesion on your skin, seek care sooner rather than later to avoid complications or future problems.

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ABC’s of Skin Cancer

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

While skin cancer can come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few guidelines that may indicate a potential skin cancer.

A is for asymmetry. This means that the left hand side looks different from the right.

B is for border irregularity. A skin cancer often has a border that has notches or irregularity

C is for color. Any variation in color is suspect – skin cancer can be blue, red, grey, black, and even flesh-toned.

D is for diameter. Anything bigger than 6 millimeters merits evaluation.

E is for evolving. A skin cancer may change its appearance over time.

These guidelines allow an individual to assess risk for skin cancer. Unfortunately, some skin cancers do not follow these rules. If you have a spot that meets any of the ABCs or have a question, consult a dermatologist promptly.

Stephen Steiner, PA-C

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“Pale Is The New Tan”

Monday, January 9th, 2012

(image courtesy of

“Pale is the new tan”

Fashion magazines, runways and celebrities such as Marsha Cross, Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart and Scarlet Johansen are getting away from the tanned look. Tanning among these groups is no longer the “it thing” and a trend of “pale is the new tan” is being established. However, despite the trending away from the bronzed beach body look, many of us still buy into the old thought process that a sun-kissed tan looks healthy and beautiful and a good tan camouflages flaws leading to increased self confidence. The reality is that some simply cannot resist getting a tan.

 During the winter months, the quest for that sun-kissed tan leads women, men and teenagers alike to the tanning bed. Misconceptions given by the tanning industry that tanning beds are a “safe way to tan” because of the “control eminence of UV rays” cause many to thoughtlessly flock to tanning salons to get a little color.

 Research about the harmful nature of tanning is overwhelming and alarming. In fact, The World Health Organization has categorized UV tanning devices as among the most dangerous causes of human cancers. UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen and sunlamps found in tanning beds emit 12 times the armful UVA rays received from the sun. In individuals that use the tanning bed before the age of 30, the risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent. Those who tan indoors are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who do not tan. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer killing an estimated 8,790 individuals in the US annually.  In addition, tanning bed users are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinomas and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

 In addition to the carcinogenic effects of tanning bed, UV exposure causes cumulative and often irreversible premature aging of the skin. Signs of this “photoaging” are fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, leathery or rough texture, blotchiness and sunspots. Quite the opposite of the “healthy glow” look that many tanners are trying to achieve.

 So, if despite all of the convincing facts that argue against tanning you still desire a little color and feel that the color “pale” does nothing for you, there is still good news!!! Sunless tanners are your answer. They give a very natural appearing tan without the harmful affects of tanning from UV rays. They come in a variety of formulations including creams, foams, gels, instant and gradual tanners. Many tanning salons and spas offer spray or airbrush tanning. Perhaps your tanning salon would even be willing to transfer your membership for credit towards spray tanning sessions.

 So, if being Snow white this winter has you feeling the winter blues and Pale is definitely not your new tan, consider the facts of harmful tanning and consider self/sunless tanners.

 Many of the statistic above are courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation. For more excellent information on the effects of tanning, tanning alternatives and skin cancer visit

 If you have a history of tanning bed use and have never had a skin cancer evaluation we at Gwinnett Dermatology would love to see you for an appointment in our office. Please call the office at 770-972-4845 to schedule your appointment.

 Jennifer Sissom, PA-C

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