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Common complaints. Easy fixes.

Common things I see and hear about all day. And things I think all day long. And hope that I can help fix easily.

Patient: “My head itches.” "My head is scaling." "I have a dry scalp." "I think I have dandruff...what is dandruff?" "I CAN'T stop picking at my head!" 

While there are several medical conditions that contribute to itch and scaling scalps, including a common yeast infection, or inflammation from some of the many hair care products we use… did you know the most common irritants for the skin are fragrance and preservatives? And no one wants mold growing in their un-smelly shampoo, right? I digress… so while you should see your dermatologist if you have persistent itch, scaling, or hair bumps, this new scalp elixir from Head and Shoulders can tide you over until you get an appointment.  

Me: "That's not dandruff, that's a peeling sun burn." You’re losing the natural sun protection on your head." "What do you think about hats??..."

"You're losing your natural sunscreen" is my nice way of telling people they are losing their hair. Thinning hair and sun exposure is a big deal. We see enough skin cancers on the head to know. And some of us aren't hat people Much to my disappointment, my children are not. In that case, enter Banana Boat spray sunscreen. 

Me: “Was there a band-aid here?” "What was here?"

My kids: "I NEED a band-aid!! I need more."

Patient: "Your nurse put too much vaseline in my hair after my procedure." 

Adhesive material issues. While not a common complaint because I guess everyone assumes there is no hope, this is definitely a common issue. The residue from band aids, medical devices, and vaseline in the hair (a favorite of our staff after Dr. Gillen has worked on the scalp), can cause stick that is hard to kick. 

“I can’t reach there.” "My arms and legs don't bend like that any more." "I can't even see that skin!" 

In response to why people don’t moisturize their legs or backs. Moisturizing is an important part of maintaining the skin barrier from infection and irritation. Especially in patients with any sort of eczema. And especially difficult on hard to reach places like the lower legs where our weaker circulation already puts us at increased risk for infection and stasis dermatitis. While I usually recommend grabbing a kitchen spatula and labelling it ‘NOT FOR COOKING’, I have found this aquaphor spray to be a more appealing option. 

All of these products are under $20 and are on Amazon or other easy to access sites and stores. HOWEVER. Don’t blow off these common concerns. While over the counter and quick fixes can help, often a prescription or guidance from a medical professional is necessary. Come see us at Absolute Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center!

Patricia O'Connor, MD

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