Dr. Josephine Futrell, M.D., Ph.D., Dermatology

Expert skincare and beauty tips

Atopic Dermatitis Follow-Up — August 1, 2020
Things that Bite and Sting in the Summer — June 9, 2020

Things that Bite and Sting in the Summer

Most of us are spending more than the usual amount of time outside these days. As a result, we are having more encounters than we like with these unsavory pests.  

1) Mosquitoes:  Obviously the best way to treat mosquitoes is to avoid them. Using insect repellent and/or insect resistant clothing is your first line of defense. This is the best advice because many diseases are spread by mosquitoes.  

If you are bitten, however, you still need to treat the symptoms. Taking Claritin or similar long-acting antihistamines will markedly decrease itch and swelling. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone two to three times daily is also helpful, and gives you something to do besides scratch.  If you forget and scratch, an antibiotic ointment applied daily may help prevent infection.  

2) Chiggers:  These are little mites that burrow into the skin.  They stick around for a few days and lay eggs before dropping off.  Before going out, make sure you spray your clothes to avoid allowing them access.  If your case is severe, call your physician. I often recommend a steroid shot and a prescription medication to apply to kill the mites.  

3). Bees, wasps, and fire ants: These stings often need more than antihistamines and topical steroids.  If swelling increases over several days, it may be a sign of infection. Your dermatologist can provide antibiotics.

Remember, don’t scratch.  Besides increasing the risk of scarring, you increase your risk of infection.

What Lurks in the Yard — June 7, 2020

What Lurks in the Yard

Are you working in the yard more these days?  Here are some plants you should know.  

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac all contain the same compound that causes allergies in many people. It’s found not only in the woods, but in almost all our yards. Poison ivy has three grouped leaflets and often grows as a vine on leaflets and trees. Poison oak has thee oak like leaves and may grow as a shrub or vine. Poison sumac has a row of paired leaves.

If you feel like you have touched one of these plants, you must wash the plant oil off in 5 minutes or it will still cause an allergic reaction.  If you find you have been exposed, and are breaking out, ask your physician for a steroid cream to use for one to two weeks.  If your reaction is severe enough, a steroid shot or oral steroids may be the only thing to give you relief.  

Remember untreated contact dermatitis may last two to three weeks, and may spread to areas on your skin that weren’t exposed.  

Stop the Itch! Get the Jump on Scalp Psoriasis — September 15, 2015

Stop the Itch! Get the Jump on Scalp Psoriasis

Autumn dream

With the cooler, drier air of fall and winter quickly approaching, here’s how to get control now of your scaling, flaking scalp:

  • Wash your hair frequently. Daily is best.
  • Use a good dandruff shampoo. Head and Shoulders or Selsum Blue are good choices,
  • Do not over-brush, pick or scratch. Psoriasis is made worse by trauma.
  • Topical steroid foams, used appropriately, can reduce the itch as well as the redness and scale.
  • In severe cases, nightly use of an oil such as P & S Liquid can loosen the scales in a non-irritating way.

When topical treatments fail, there are many systemic options. See a dermatologist for more in-depth advice.