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Removal of Unwanted Facial Hair - Article
ABSTRACT: Unwanted facial hair is a common problem that is seldom discussed in the primary care setting. Although men occasionally request removal of unwanted facial hair, women most often seek help with this condition. Physicians generally neglect to address the problem if the patient does not first request help. The condition may be caused by androgen overproduction, increased sensitivity to circulating androgens, or other metabolic and endocrine disorders, and should be properly evaluated. Options for hair removal vary in efficacy, degree of discomfort, and cost. Clinical studies on the efficacy of many therapies are lacking. Short of surgical removal of the hair follicle, the only permanent treatment is electrolysis. However, the practice of electrolysis lacks standardization, and regulation of the procedure varies from state to state. Shaving, epilation, and depilation are the most commonly attempted initial options for facial hair removal. Although these methods are less expensive, they are only temporary. Laser hair removal, although better studied than most methods and more strictly regulated, has yet to be proved permanent in all patients. Eflornithine, a topical treatment, is simple to apply and has minimal side effects. By the time most patients consult a physician, they have tried several methods of hair removal. Family physicians can properly educate patients and recommend treatment for this common condition if they are armed with basic knowledge about the treatment options.
ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a common problem affecting up to 10 percent of all children. The mainstays of therapy have been oral antihistamines, topical emollients, topical doxepin, and topical corticosteroids. Side effects associated with higher potency topical corticosteroids have limited their use in children and for facial areas. Tacrolimus (Protopic) is an immunosuppressive agent typically used systemically in transplant patients. Used topically, it has been found to be effective in treating moderate to severe atopic dermatitis without causing the atrophy that might occur with prolonged use of topical corticosteroids. Tacrolimus works equally well in children and adults, with more than two thirds of both groups having an improvement of greater than 50 percent. Despite its potency, very little of the medication is systemically absorbed, and absorption decreases as the atopic dermatitis resolves. The main side effects are burning and itching, but these also decrease with improvement of the atopic dermatitis.
ABSTRACT: Cutaneous warts are a common presenting complaint in children and adolescents. Common, plantar, or flat warts are cutaneous manifestations of the human papillomavirus. The treatment of warts poses a therapeutic challenge for physicians. No single therapy has been proven effective at achieving complete remission in every patient. As a result, many different approaches to wart therapy exist. These approaches are discussed to demonstrate the evidence supporting common therapies and provide a guideline for physicians. Evidence supports the at-home use of topical salicylic acid and physician-administered cryotherapy. Intralesional immunotherapy for nongenital cutaneous warts may be an option for large or recalcitrant warts.
Chronic Plaque Psoriasis - Article
ABSTRACT: Chronic plaque psoriasis, the most common form of psoriasis, is a papulosquamous disease defined by erythematous plaques with a silvery scale. The diagnosis usually is clinical, but occasionally a biopsy is necessary. Psoriasis affects 0.6 to 4.8 percent of the U.S. population, and about 30 percent of affected patients have a first-degree relative with the disease. Psoriasis is a T-cell-mediated autoimmune disease, but certain medications and infections are well-known risk factors. Management of psoriasis includes education about chronicity, realistic expectations, and use of medication. Steroids and vitamin D derivatives (e.g., calcipotriene) are the mainstays of topical therapy. Topical steroids and calcipotriene together may work better than either agent alone. Patients with psoriasis involving more than 20 percent of their skin or those not responding to topical therapy are candidates for light therapy; traditional systemic therapy; or systemic treatment with immunomodulatory drugs such as alefacept, efalizumab, and etanercept.
ABSTRACT: Granuloma annulare is a benign, asymptomatic, self-limited papular eruption found in patients of all ages. The primary skin lesion usually is grouped papules in an enlarging annular shape, with color ranging from flesh-colored to erythematous. The two most common types of granuloma annulare are localized, which typically is found on the lateral or dorsal surfaces of the hands and feet; and disseminated, which is widespread. Localized disease generally is self-limited and resolves within one to two years, whereas disseminated disease lasts longer. Because localized granuloma annulare is self-limited, no treatment other than reassurance may be necessary. There are no well-designed randomized controlled trials of the treatment of granuloma annulare. Treatment recommendations are based on the pathophysiology of the disease, expert opinion, and case reports only. Liquid nitrogen, injected steroids, or topical steroids under occlusion have been recommended for treatment of localized disease. Disseminated granuloma annulare may be treated with one of several systemic therapies such as dapsone, retinoids, niacinamide, antimalarials, psoralen plus ultraviolet A therapy, fumaric acid esters, tacrolimus, and pimecrolimus. Consultation with a dermatologist is recommended because of the possible toxicities of these agents.
Treatment Options for Atopic Dermatitis - Article
ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition that usually affects children. It is a chronic disease, with periods of remission and flare-ups, that adversely affects the quality of life of patients and their families. Aggressive therapy with emollients is an important intervention for patients with atopic dermatitis. Patients should avoid individual disease triggers and allergens. Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for flare-ups and are the standard to which other treatments are compared. Topical calcineurin inhibitors should not be used in patients younger than two years or in those who are immunosuppressed, and should be secondline therapies in other patients. Rarely, systemic agents (e.g., cyclosporine, interferon gamma-1b, oral corticosteroids) may be considered in adults.
ABSTRACT: Lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, and lichen simplex chronicus are three of the most common non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva. Lichen sclerosus is characterized by intense vulvar itching and can affect men and women of all ages, but it manifests most commonly in postmenopausal women. Patients with lichen sclerosus have an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, and they should be monitored for malignancy. Lichen planus is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that can affect the vulva and the vagina; it peaks in incidence between ages 30 and 60. There are three clinical variants of lichen planus affecting the vulva: erosive, papulosquamous, and hypertrophic. Lichen simplex chronicus is caused by persistent itching and scratching of the vulvar skin, which results in a thickened, leathery appearance. It is thought to be an atopic disorder in many cases and may arise in normal skin as a result of psychological stress or environmental factors. Definitive diagnosis of non-neoplastic disorders depends on the histology of biopsied tissue. All three disorders are treated with topical corticosteroid ointments of varying potency. Lichen sclerosus and lichen planus are not routinely treated with surgery, which is necessary only in patients who have a malignancy or advanced scarring that causes dyspareunia or clitoral phimosis. Educational counseling teaches patients that even though these chronic disorders cannot be cured, they can be effectively managed.
Acute and Chronic Paronychia - Article
ABSTRACT: Paronychia is an inflammation of the folds of tissue surrounding the nail of a toe or finger. Paronychia may be classified as either acute or chronic. The main factor associated with the development of acute paronychia is direct or indirect trauma to the cuticle or nail fold. This enables pathogens to inoculate the nail, resulting in infection. Treatment options for acute paronychia include warm compresses; topical antibiotics, with or without corticosteroids; oral antibiotics; or surgical incision and drainage for more severe cases. Chronic paronychia is a multifactorial inflammatory reaction of the proximal nail fold to irritants and allergens. The patient should avoid exposure to contact irritants; treatment of underlying inflammation and infection is recommended, using a combination of a broad-spectrum topical antifungal agent and a corticosteroid. Application of emollient lotions may be beneficial. Topical steroid creams are more effective than systemic antifungals in the treatment of chronic paronychia. In recalcitrant chronic paronychia, en bloc excision of the proximal nail fold is an option. Alternatively, an eponychial marsupialization, with or without nail removal, may be performed.
Topical Psoriasis Therapy - Article
ABSTRACT: Psoriasis is a common dermatosis, affecting from 1 to 3 percent of the population. Until recently, the mainstays of topical therapy have been corticosteroids, tars, anthralins and keratolytics. Recently, however, vitamin D analogs, a new anthralin preparation and topical retinoids have expanded physicians' therapeutic armamentarium. These new topical therapies offer increased hope and convenience to the large patient population with psoriasis.
Topical Therapy for Acne - Article
ABSTRACT: Acne is a common problem in adolescents and young adults. The disorder is caused by abnormal desquamation of follicular epithelium that results in obstruction of the pilosebaceous canal. This obstruction leads to the formation of comedones, which can become inflamed because of overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes. Topical retinoids such as tretinoin or adapalene are effective in many patients with comedonal acne. Patients with inflammatory lesions benefit from treatment with benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid or topical antibiotics. Frequently, the use of comedonal and antibacterial agents is required.