The Most Common Scalp Issues & How To Treat Them | Refinery 29


Originally appeared on Refinery 29 by Kelly Dougher

It’s not hyperbole to say that everyone reading this article has had, or will have, a scalp issue or two at some point in his or her life. It’s one of those you’re-not-alone situations (everything from hair loss to dandruff is super common), yet it’s a topic we often don’t feel comfortable talking about. Thus, many people suffer from easily treatable conditions quietly and alone — and that’s no good.

If you’re dealing with scalp problems, you shouldn’t be too embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment and advice. But here, we got the ball rolling for you. We reached out to some top dermatologists to get the lowdown on the most common scalp issues and how to deal with them.

Read more about what Dr. Dendy Engelman has to say about how to treat scalp issues here


A Love Affair with My Retinoid


Originally appeared on French Fries & Rosé by Erin Toland

Retinoids, the Holy Grail of anti-aging products. A necessary part of your routine if you want to keep your skin clear and wrinkle free. I got on the retinoid train about ten years ago, but I wasn’t thrilled with the results. Until I found “the one”. The retinoid that puts all others to shame. Tazorac.

Retinoids work by kicking your old surface skin cells to the curb to make room for new cell growth underneath. They get into the deeper layer of skin to slow the breakdown of collagen and prevent wrinkles from where they start. They work wonders on fine lines, acne, brown spots and scars. And while they do cause some irritation and peeling of the skin, retinoids actually make the skin thicker in the long run.

The first retinoid I ever tried was the old classic, Retin – A. I had some lovely stretch marks that needed a little tending to and my dermatologist at the time said it would do the trick. It did not. I quickly abandoned that strategy.

A couple of years later when I started to beef up my anti-aging routine, I decided to give Retin – A ago on my face. Yuck. First of all, it’s greasy, like, oil slick greasy. I was willing to look past that if I liked the results but I didn’t. It made my skin blotchy and red. Now, I know that face peeling is a part of the retinoid process, but Retin – A wasn’t giving me that whole peel the Elmer’s Glue off your hand kind of thing. I was getting more of a burn victim kind of thing. I used it for a while, but it just didn’t do it for me.

I went through a few more after that; Renova, Differin, Tretin – X, but they still weren’t cutting it. Either they didn’t do anything at all, or I would have an adverse reaction. So, for a couple of years, I stopped using retinoids all together. Then I finally found a dermatologist that turned my retinoid frown upside down.

I love my dermatologist. I’ve been going to her for eight years. Do you know what it’s like to find an amazing dermatologist? It’s worth its weight in gold. I’m telling you; they are hard to find. If they move, you move with them. That’s how hard it is to find someone that cares as much about your skin as you do. And if you’re lucky, they care more about your skin than you do. Which thankfully, is the case with me.

Her name is Dr. Monica Schadlow, and she is a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. She’s also an awesome woman.

I started seeing her for laser treatments and for any other skin perfecting regimens she suggested. I eventually explained to her my woes over my failed retinoid attempts and without missing a beat she said, “you need to try Tazorac.” “Ok, I’ll give it a go,” I said. Haven’t looked back since.

Tazorac is prescription retinoid created to treat psoriasis and acne by affecting the growth of skin cells. It also happens to do wonders for fine lines, brown spots, and pigmentation of the skin. It comes in a cream, gel or foam form. The gel is the way to go. Retinoids in gel form are less emollient and, therefore, aren’t as pore clogging. Gels also enhance penetration, making the retinoid stronger and more effective. Although, gels can sometimes cause more irritation and redness. I don’t find that to be the case for me.

Taz and I are soulmates. I have been using it for five years, and it has completely changed my skin. I had some brown spots from too much sun as a kid. Gone. I had some discoloration from old zits. Gone. New zits. Gone. And my skin is smooth as silk. I love the way it feels when I put it on, and I love that three days after I put it on the dead skin sloughs off to reveal beautiful fresh skin underneath. I apply it on Sunday; I peel on Wednesday and Thursday and by Friday I’m glowing. I only use it once a week which works for me but talk to your Dr about what works for you.

So that’s my retinoid love story. Like any love story, it has its ups and downs. But ulitmately, true love finds a way to prevail. I hope you too can find your retinoid true love. Meanwhile, Taz and I will hold hands and gallop into the sunset. With fabulous skin.

How One Dermatologist Appointment Changed My Life | Byrdie


Originally featured on Byrdie by Lindsey Metrus

Skin cancer runs in my family. My grandpa was diagnosed with melanoma after frequenting the golf course in the blazing sun for decades, and as a result, he ended up needing a skin graft on his ear. Seeing this in person was enough to make me want to apply SPF 50 every time I stepped foot outdoors, but prior to this eye-opening moment, I was a bit of a self-proclaimed sun-worshiper.

As a teenager, I worked as a lifeguard at an outdoor pool. The sun was practically part of my job description, and to it I was hopelessly devoted. Hours and hours of sun exposure led to amazing tan lines, sure, but the damage I was doing in the meantime was immeasurable. Then, as a college student, I dipped into the tanning bed pool and swam one too many laps, so to speak. Sometimes, I would even go in without applying any sunscreen. Looking back on these moments now, I want to reverse the clock and slap my 20-year-old self into reality.

After seeing firsthand my bronzed skin, sunburns, and potential skin damage, my mother begged me to get an allover body scan at the dermatologist. If you’ve never heard of this, here’s what it entails: The doctor has you strip down into your underwear and scans you with his or her own eyes (and sometimes a magnifying glass) to see if you have any noticeable areas of damage, suspicious moles, or concerning spots.

While on my visit, I felt a bit nervous—mostly because the doctor had a male intern shadowing her, and I suspected he was getting quite the eyeful, but also because I worried the years of sun- and lightbulb-bathing were cause for concern. Much to my dismay, I was right.

The doctor pointed to two spots on my left shoulder—ones I myself had seen a noticeable change in but hadn’t thought too much of—and told me she’d need to take a skin sample. She then took out a small blade, cut the moles off of my back (it hurt like heck), and said she’d send them off to the lab. In the next week or so, I wait patiently (and, truthfully, in much fear) to hear the results. Turns out both of the moles were abnormal, and I’d need to come in for a full biopsy to have them removed. Great, I thought.

I ended up seeing a new doctor to have the biopsy done, and let me tell you: That was anincredibly painful experience. The doctor, clad with blood-covered rubber gloves, told me he’d need to put stitches in my skin since he had to go pretty deep in order to remove any bit of pre-cancerous matter. He joked, “It’s a good thing you’re not a model, because you’ll have some noticeable scars on your back.” Oh, yeah, good thing, Doc. This was no time for humor, but I laughed it off awkwardly anyway.

A week later, I got a call from the doctor’s office telling me he had removed “melanocytic nevi.” These are benign neoplasms composed of melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells that colonize the epidermis. Thankfully, he said he had removed any last bit of concerning skin, something I felt I could have told him myself after seeing how deep my new scars were.

Scars or not, I’m so thankful he was able to get the moles off before they led to something worse—I’m not ready to add the C word to my list of oft-used vocabulary. From there on out, I knew I wanted to spend fewer days on the beach and completely cancel any backyard tanning sessions. I also switched out my tanning oils and SPF 4 for SPF 50.

Recently, my mom shocked me with this sentence: “You need to be careful going out in the sun because your skin loves skin cancer,” she said. My skin “loves” skin cancer? Is this possible? I wondered if because I was fair skinned, I was more prone to such a thing. I decided to turn to an expert to get some answers.

All skin types can get various types of skin cancer. Sun-induced skin cancers are most common in patients with Fitzpatrick skin type 1-2. Other skin cancers that are caused by genetic predisposition or viruses can occur anywhere on the body, even in sun-protected areas,” says Snehal Amin, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. I’m about a 3 on the Fitzpatrick scale, but I definitely have a genetic predisposition to skin cancer.

If you’re wondering when you should get checked, the answer is probably more often than you’d think: “Everyone should check themselves, even in the underwear area, once per month.Patients without a family or personal history should be checked by a board-certified dermatologist once per year. If you have a family history, then you should get checked more often. If you’ve had melanoma, get checked every three to six months,” says Dr. Amin.

When checking yourself, you’ve probably heard of the ABCDs of moles (asymmetry, border, color, and diameter), but Dr. Amin says you’re missing two crucial letters: E and F. “The most important is E, or evolving. If a mole changes, then it should be looked at by a dermatologist.Patients can get new moles up to about age 40. F is for family history,” he explains.

Lastly, I asked Dr. Amin if there was a good chance I’d have more abnormal moles in the future, given my history. His answer wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear: “A patient with a history of abnormal moles has a slightly higher predisposition to having more abnormal moles and melanoma.This tendency often runs in families.” Good to know.