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Dermatology is the medical specialty that deals with the study and knowledge of human skin, the largest organ of the body, and the diseases that can affect it. This specialty is also interested in the prevention of diseases, and in the preservation or restoration of skin normality. It also deals with dermocosmetics, which is dedicated to the appearance, hygiene and protection of the skin.
What conditions do dermatologists treat?
Six of the most common conditions treated by dermatology in Guatemala are:
- Acne vulgaris
- Atopic dermatitis
- Alopecia areata
- Focal hyperhidrosis
Acne is a skin disorder that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It often results in comedones, blackheads, or pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Acne is most common in teenagers, although it affects people of all ages.
A wart is small, granular bumps in the dermis that most commonly appear on the hands or fingers. To the touch they are rough and may have small blackheads of clotted blood. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus and are transmitted by touch. Warts are usually harmless and they go away on their own over time. However, many patients choose to have them removed because they are embarrassing and annoying.
Atopic dermatitis usually refers to some type of skin irritation. Dermatitis is a common condition, which can come in many forms and have different causes. It usually involves scaly, itchy skin or a skin rash that becomes red and swollen. It can also cause the dermis to ooze, crust, blister, or become dry. Fortunately, dermatitis is not contagious, but it can become quite bothersome and shameful.
Alopecia areata, or baldness, is a condition that causes rounded areas of hair loss and can lead to total baldness. Alopecia areata is thought to be an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system mistakenly destroys and attacks healthy hair follicles. It is common to find family history in people affected by this problem. Alopecia areata can occur in men, women and children. Some people may lose significant amounts of hair due to a major life event such as illness, trauma, or pregnancy.
Focal hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is not necessarily related to heat or exercise, where sweating is good for lowering your body temperature. In focal hyperhidrosis, a person can sweat through their clothes, even in cold weather, without any effort. This condition can even disrupt the daily routine, causing anxiety and social inhibition. In severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the sweat glands or disconnect the nerves responsible for the overproduction of sweat.
Keloids form due to an overgrowth of scar tissue. After an injury, it occurs where the skin has healed. Keloids can arise from wounds that form from acne, burns, surgical cuts, chickenpox, ear piercing, minor lacerations or trauma, and vaccination sites. Keloids are most common in people under the age of 30.
What treatments and procedures exist in dermatology?
Five of the most common treatments and procedures in dermatology in Guatemala are:
- Facial treatment
The peel, also called dermabrasion or chemical peel, depending on the method used, is a treatment using either chemical or physical procedures to improve the appearance and texture of the skin. This is done by destroying tissue to create new layers of skin. The basis of this technique lies in the removal of the damaged tissue so that the skin can then regenerate based on the deeper layers of the dermis and undamaged hair follicles. The peeling can treat various dermal wounds, such as scars moderated by acne, wrinkles, blemishes, etc.
Phototherapy, or light therapy, is a way to treat emotional disturbance that occurs seasonally and other illnesses exposed to artificial light. This condition is a type of depression that develops at a certain time of year, usually in the winter or fall. Phototherapy involves using a specially designed lamp to imitate natural outdoor light while working or sitting close to it. Phototherapy is believed to affect brain chemicals related to mood and sleep.
Sclerotherapy is an effective way to treat “spider webs” and usually small varicose veins. In sclerotherapy, a solution is injected directly into the vein, which causes the vein to scar, forcing the blood to be redirected through healthier veins. In turn, local tissue absorbs the collapsed vein and subsequently the treated veins tend to disappear within a few weeks; although in certain cases it may take more than a month to see the final result. In certain cases, several sclerotherapy treatments may be necessary.
The facial treatment consists of applying different procedures to the face to improve the care of your skin. Among them are the botulinum toxin, which consists in the application of small injections in the muscles, making them relax and smoothing out the expression lines; the pulsed light, which is used for the treatment of rosacea, melasma and photo rejuvenation; the radio frequency, which produces a gradual heating of the skin, managing to act on the existing collagen fibers to strengthen them, among others.
Onychectomy is a surgical practice that consists of cutting the nail in a total or partial way, according to the medical injury that is presented. It is indicated for ingrown nails or other types of nail trauma. This procedure is performed by first cleaning the area in an aseptic way, then applying local anesthesia, to finally perform the procedure.