How to Protect Your Skin During Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Tips to help you stay safe from the sun this summer

Like we talked about last month, you need to protect your skin from the sun if you want to prevent skin cancer. Now that it’s May, it’s officially Skin Cancer Awareness Month. As a Nashville dermatology practice, we feel it is important to provide the best ways to protect yourself from sun exposure, the benefits of sun-protective clothing, and the importance of skin cancer screenings.

Find more sun safety tips from Kristen Stirling on The Kim & Kalee Show

Use Sunblock and Sunscreen Regularly

No matter what part of the world you’re in, you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. UV light is what causes sunburns and eventually skin cancer. With summer coming up, and with COVID ending, there’s a lot more time for playing outside and soaking in the sun.

Now, not every activity outside is dangerous in terms of sun exposure, but summer is the time when people burn the easiest. Whatever you do, you need to keep sun protection on your mind when you or your kids are out playing sports, swimming, out on a picnic, or even just taking care of the lawn.

Should I Use Sunblock or Sunscreen?

Benefits of Sunscreen

Anything is really better than nothing when it comes to sun protection. Sunscreen is really the less effective option in terms of formulated sun protection. Most of the time, sunscreens are made from aerosol chemicals that absorb the rays of the sun and turn them into heat. Sunscreens are easy to apply but are only effective for a limited amount of time before you need to reapply. 

Another thing to be aware of is that sunscreens, especially if you’re going to be swimming, tend to wash off and become less effective in the water. That said, there are several water-resistant sunscreens available, but you should still apply them regularly.

Benefits of Sunblock

Now, sunblock on the other hand creates an actual physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Sunblock formulations usually include titanium dioxide or zinc. These metals are organic materials that have to be mined out of the ground, which makes sunblocks more expensive than a spray-on sunscreen.

These metals are also usually too large to be used in an aerosol spray. However, we have noticed a few newer sunscreens with zinc in their formula. If you prefer using a spray-on screen, look for one with zinc or titanium in its ingredients.

a couple enjoying the sun on the beach with wide brim hats and sun protective shirts

Sun Protective Clothing

Within the past few years, protective sun gear has gotten more stylish and more popular. This includes options like rash guards, sun shirts, and cover-ups. And of course, you shouldn’t go without timeless accessories like a wide-brim hat and a handy pair of sunglasses. Whether you’re hitting the beach or just like being outdoors, you should consider using these clothes to keep your skin safe from sun damage.

Rash Guards

One of the best ways to save yourself some money on sunscreen is to buy a rash guard. These are sporty short or long-sleeved shirts made from synthetic materials like nylon, spandex, or polyester. They’re also quite stylish! Especially if you’re going for a surfer look.

While you’re shopping for a rash guard, make sure you look for one that offers SPF protection. Not all sun shirts are made equally, so just be aware. Also, sun shirts come in both fitted and loose designs. So, there’s plenty of options to choose from.

A final note on sun shirts is that they typically help you stay cooler when you’re in the water and while it’s wet. So you’re looking for a good way to stay cool and protected during a full day at the beach, a rash guard is the way to go. It definitely pays to cover up!

Wide Brim Hats

A sun hat will help you stay protected from the sun while you enjoy the pool this summer in Tennessee

Since you probably don’t want to wear a full face mask at the beach, the best way to protect your face and neck while you’re in the sun is with a wide brim hat. A good protective hat should have a brim that’s at least three inches long, but anything longer is also fine.

Hats are great for sun protection because, like sunblock, they create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Just be careful about woven sun hats, because many of their brims have holes wide enough to let the sun shine through.

Does My Hat Need an SPF?

It never hurts to have a sun protection factor (SPF) built into your clothes or accessories. Remember, anything is better than nothing when it comes to sun protection. So, if you have just a cute simple wide brim hat, then use that. But if you want the best protection, you should go for a hat with a built-in SPF.

Should I Wear Sun Resistant Clothes Every Day?

If you want to wear your beach gear around every day, it won’t hurt! But, your normal clothes offer some sun protection already. The level of SPF for normal clothes depends on the fabric and color; and whether your clothes are wet or dry. 

Lighter-colored cotton fabrics generally offer less protection, but heavier materials like denim offer much more. Densely woven clothes also offer a higher SPF than more loosely woven materials. Synthetic fabrics are also quite effective sun blockers. Also, shiny materials like polyester, satin, or silk can offer good protection due to their naturally reflective makeup.

If you’re worried about how well your clothes protect you from the sun, just hold the fabric up to a light, and if you can see through it, then it does not offer a good SPF.

The Importance of Skin Cancer Screenings

A mans back with moles to represent getting a skin cancer screening

Perhaps the most important part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month is encouraging people to get screened for skin cancer. In the field of dermatology, we generally recommend that anyone over 40 should get a yearly skin cancer screening.

Compared to other screenings, skin cancer exams are very quick. A Tennessee dermatologist or a licensed nurse practitioner of dermatology can easily perform a screening in three to five minutes. More often than not there are no troubling signs, but a derm expert can identify the early signs of skin cancer and recommend when to remove a precancerous mole.

Plus, the sooner we can detect a cancerous lesion, the better your chances of recovery will be.

What Are the Early Signs of Skin Cancer?

A rule of thumb when spotting skin cancer is to look for changes or irregularities in your moles. One of the keys we use in the field of dermatology is the ABCDEs of skin cancer.

A – Asymmetric

Skin cancer lesions are irregularly shaped and are never perfectly round or ovular like a regular mole.

B – Border

Lesions, or precancerous moles, may have a jagged and irregular border, instead of a smooth gradual border like a normal mole.

C – Color

The lesions may be either an odd color or a mix of colors. It is not uncommon to see red, black, blue and even pinkish colors in skin cancer growths.

D – Diameter

The diameter of the lesion or mole is larger than 6 mm.

E – Evolving

The mole or lesion does not look the same over time, and either changes color, grows in diameter or a combination of the previously mentioned indicators.

With these tips in mind, you can keep an eye on your skin and if you notice any that are concerning, you should see a dermatology practitioner. Also, if you have a partner or significant other, they can help you inspect your back for hard-to-see moles. In fact, the back is the second most common place where skin cancer occurs, other than the face and neck.

Celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness Month with Tennessee Telederm

If you’re concerned about the condition of your skin and need help identifying if you have a precancerous mole, then make an appointment with Kristen Stirling, APRN for an online skincare consultation. Kristen also offers online dermatology appointments for acne, rashes, eczema, rosacea, warts and more. Appointments are about 30-45 minutes long and are online only. Which means you don’t have to worry about visiting a doctor’s office or getting stuck in Nashville traffic!

The Importance of Using Sunscreen

Apply sunscreen regularly to protect yourself from skin cancer

Sunscreen should not just be used when you go to the beach or to the pool. In fact, you should use sunscreen every day. You might be thinking, “but that’s a lot of sunscreen!” or “but what if I’m inside most of the time?” or “does that mean I have to use sunscreen in the winter?” Or you might be asking, “What happens if I don’t use sunscreen every day?”

When we say you should wear sunscreen every day, it’s mostly just for your face and neck, since that’s what’s exposed to the sun during the day while you’re out and about.

This month we’ll go over the importance of wearing sunscreen every day, the problems caused by sun exposure and how you can find the best sunscreen for your skin.

Why Should I Wear Sunscreen Every Day?

A man using sunscreen on his arms before going on a run.

The sun is a constant source of light and heat for the Earth. However, the sun’s rays carry ultraviolet (UV) rays that damage our skin on a daily basis.

Within the sun’s ultraviolet rays are ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. These rays are two different wavelengths of light that penetrate different layers of skin and cause damage over time. UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, including the dermis and hypodermis. The damage to these layers of the skin cause wrinkles and lines to form, reduce skin elasticity and cause dermal volume loss.

On the other hand, UVB rays only penetrate the outermost layer of the skin–the epidermis. These rays interact with the cells that produce and regulate the pigment of your skin. UVB rays also cause sunburns and damage your skin’s dna cells–making it the leading cause of skin cancer.

On the flip side, getting in your daily dose of sunlight is an important part of maintaining your health. The sun’s rays stimulate vitamin D production, which is essential for reducing depression, strengthening your bones and boosting your immune system. You only need about 10-15 minutes 3 or 4 times per week to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

Where Should I Use Sunscreen?

Sunscreen can help you prevent skin cancer

Because the sun shines every day of the year, even when blocked by clouds, your skin is exposed to UV radiation any time you’re outside. However, that doesn’t mean you have to cover your entire body in sunscreen just to stay safe. You just need to apply a protective layer to your exposed skin if you plan to be outside for more than 15 minutes.

If you live in Tennessee or a state with a mild climate, you only need to worry about sunscreen from the spring through the fall. But, if you live in a warmer and sunnier climate like Southern California or Florida, you should still use sunscreen every day.

Remember to apply sunscreen to the back of your neck, the tips of your ears, your face, your neck, your upper chest, your hands and however much of your arms are exposed.

What Happens if You Don’t Use Sunscreen?

The main consequence of not wearing sunscreen is putting yourself and your skin at risk for sun damage, sunburns and skin cancer. Of course, if you don’t use sunscreen your skin will begin producing more melanin to help protect itself from UV light. As the protein that gives your skin its color, not using sunscreen can help you look more tan. However, it will also cause more moles and freckles to form on your skin, depending on your genetics.

Risking sun exposure also increases your risk for developing premature fine lines and wrinkles, spider veins and signs of premature aging. As a side note, when you use sunscreen, your skin can actually begin to repair itself and reverse signs of aging. So, in a way, sunscreen is the best anti-aging product you can use.

Does Sun Exposure Cause Skin Cancer?

Get an online dermatology appointment with Tennessee Telederm to get a precancerous mole screening.

The foundational cause of skin cancer is the mutation of your skin’s DNA that causes skin cells to grow at an unregulated rate. The damage to your skin’s DNA comes from exposure to both UVA and UVB radiation. Long story short…yes, sun exposure does cause skin cancer.

However, one day without sunscreen won’t give you skin cancer right away. Your body has natural defenses to repair and defend against genetic mutations. But, as you age, your body’s defenses become weaker.

Repeated sunburns and unprotected exposure to the sun will cause more damage to your skin’s DNA. As a result, your risk of developing skin cancer increases dramatically.

What Kind of Sunscreen Should I Use?

A couple applying sunscreen at the beach to prevent sunburns.

First, you should know that there are two types of sunscreen. One uses zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and other minerals to block and reflect the sun’s rays. The other uses chemicals to absorb UV light. Within these two types of sunscreen are varying sun protection factors (SPF). 

Mineral Sunscreen

These lotions create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Mineral sunscreens are formulated with natural ingredients but can take more time to rub into your skin. Additionally, mineral sunscreens tend to be more expensive than chemical sunscreens. 

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical formulations are affordable and easy to apply. If you use a spray-on sunscreen while you’re at the beach, remember to give your skin an extra coat to ensure it’s protected. Remember to follow the instructions on the product label to give your sunscreen enough time to absorb into your skin.

What SPF Sunscreen Should I Use?

A woman looking at a bottle of sunscreen at the store.

Any SPF is better than none. In fact, the SPF should be the most important factor when choosing a sunscreen product. If you find out that a chemical formula sunscreen doesn’t work for your skin, try a physical sunscreen. Just find what works best for you and stick with it.

Now, in terms of SPF numbers, you don’t really need an SPF that’s any higher than 50. Even an SPF 30 sunscreen will provide adequate protection for daily activities and help you prevent skin cancer.

Will My Sunscreen Protect Me from All UV Light?

A mother putting sunscreen on her child's nose while at the beach.

According to the FDA, most sunscreens have been tested with methods that only measure UVB rays. However, the FDA has also approved broad spectrum sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays.

If you want to have the most protection possible, which won’t hurt in the long run, look for broad spectrum sunscreens.

Sunscreen Vs Sunblock

Sunblock is actually just another name for physical sunscreen. Sunscreen, by definition, is a chemical compound product that absorbs UV light to protect your skin.

Should You Use Sunscreen Inside?

Many people work office jobs that limit their exposure to the sun. But if you have a window office, does that mean you’re exposed to the sun all day? Thankfully, most windows in American buildings are resistant to UVB radiation. Additionally, most car windows are also designed to minimize UVB exposure.

If you want to stay safe from UVA radiation though, you will still need to use sunscreen.

Should You Use Sunscreen in The Winter?

Even though winter brings colder temperatures, shorter days and lots of overcast skies, that won’t stop the sun’s UV rays from reaching the Earth, or your skin. So, yes. You should still use sunscreen or other sun protection in the winter whenever you’re outside.

Are Tanning Beds Bad For Your Skin?

Tanning beds can help you get a beautiful tan outside of the summer months. However, they still use UV radiation. The more you use a tanning bed and the more these UV rays penetrate the skin, the more damage you’re doing to your skin.

How Can I Spot Early Signs of Skin Cancer?

How to detect the signs of skin cancer early.

The early signs of skin cancer will generally appear as a mole with an irregular shape, size, border or color. The earlier you can get a precancerous mole evaluated by an experienced dermatology professional–the better. 

Online Dermatology TN Appointments with Tennessee Telederm

Do you have a mole, sunspot, or other sun damage you’re worried about? Skip waiting for an in-office appointment and enjoy the convenience of our telehealth dermatology appointments. Visit the Get Started page to set up your account and create an appointment.

When to Get Dermatology Treatment for Your Nails

Online dermatology for nail health

When to Get Dermatology Treatment for Your Nails

We’re now half-way through March and with April just around the corner and the weather getting warmer, sandal season is here. But that means if you have toenail problems, you can’t hide them anymore under your socks and shoes. So, you have a choice, either miss out on sandal weather or take care of those toenail fungus problems.

Of course, fungal infections aren’t the only conditions of the feet covered by medical dermatology. Thankfully, many mild conditions resolve on their own, but to help you know when you need to see a dermatology specialist, keep reading to learn about five important signs you should look out for.

Nail Discoloration

One of the main signs of toenail fungus is discoloration of the nail. Most often, nails become darker brown and yellowish. In rare cases, the discoloration can be pale white. As soon as you notice discoloration, you should talk to a dermatology practitioner. On its own, nail fungus will not get better.

Nail discolor can also be a sign of physical trauma. A damaged nail will appear purple or bruised. Normally, these will heal on their own.

However, a dark discoloration of the nail can also be a sign of melanoma. In these cases, the discoloration will present as a dark streak through the nail. This can occur on both the fingernails and the toenails. Thankfully, not every dark streak is a case of melanoma, but it should still be examined by a dermatology professional.

Nail Deformities

Beyond discoloration, unhealthy nails may also become warped. Nail deformities have a variety of causes. Some deformities are merely aesthetic problems, but other deformities lead to serious bacterial infections.

Pitted Nails

Pitted nails

Some diseases cause your nails to look pitted and scarred with tiny indents. Psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and alopecia are all potential causes of pitted nails. For an accurate medical diagnosis for pitted nails, visit our Get Started page to create an appointment.

Spoon Nails

If nails become thin, they can become dipped in the middle and raised on the sides, creating a “scoop” or spoon shape. Generally, spoon-shaped nails are a sign of iron deficiency.

Clubbed Nails

An example of clubbed nails.

Nail clubbing caused the ends of the fingers to become swollen and bloated-looking. The nails become spongy to the touch and lighter in color. The angle of the nail also slopes downward until the nail resembles an upside-down spoon.

Many cases of clubbing have been linked to lung disease, so it’s important to talk to your doctor or a dermatology practitioner to assess your overall health.

Beau’s Lines

Deep lines can form horizontally in the middle of the nails, causing physical malformation of the nail. Causes include stress, serious medical conditions and chemotherapy. In time, Beau’s lines will grow out.

Washboard Nails

Ridge fingernails

Also called ridged nails, washboard nails are caused by repeated picking or fidgeting with your nails. Tics are another cause of ridged nails. Breaking the habit will allow the nails to grow out normally.

Psoriasis of the Nails

Treat nail discoloration with Tennessee Telederm

Psoriasis is a condition that can affect all areas of the body, including the nails. Nail psoriasis causes weakness in the nails which presents symptoms such as icepick marks, nail lifting from the nailbed, fungal infections, and thickening.

Athlete’s Foot

Treat athletes food with Tennessee Telederm

Medically known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a common fungal rash caused by a foot fungus similar to ringworm. Symptoms present as a scaly, itchy rash. It spreads easily, but thankfully it’s also easy to treat. You should start treating it as soon as possible because if it spreads under the toenails, it becomes toenail fungus and becomes harder to treat.

How to Get Rid of Athlete’s Foot

Treating athlete’s foot usually doesn’t require much more than the application of an antifungal cream like miconazole. Other potential remedies include soaking the feet in hydrogen peroxide, applying tea tree oil or another antifungal treatment. If topical treatment doesn’t work, oral antifungal medications are also effective.

Bacterial Infections

Nail bacterial infection.

The most common bacterial nail infection is called paronychia. Symptoms include swelling and inflammation around the nail plate. Pus-filled lesions around the finger or toenail is another common symptom.

Ingrown Nails

These can occur both on the fingernails and the toenails. However, ingrown toenails occur more frequently than ingrown fingernails and develop most often on the big toe.

What is Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus can look like a yellow-white growth that makes the nails deteriorate.

Toenail fungus is the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot. However, when it grows under the toenails it is referred to as onychomycosis. Symptoms of toenail fungus include:

  • Thickening of the nails
  • White, yellow, or yellow-brown nail discoloration
  • Nails becoming brittle, ragged or crumbly
  • Nails becoming misshapen or lifted
  • Build-up of debris under the nail
  • Slightly foul-smelling odor

What is the Best Way to Get Rid of Toenail Fungus?

Because toenail fungus grows under the hard-to-reach nail beds, oral antifungal medications are the first step in treatment. Typically, patients take these medications for a period of six to twelve weeks until the infection clears. However, the damage from the fungus will not be fixed until the nail grows all the way out.

Which Medications are Effective for Toenail Fungus?

The oral antifungal pills that work best on nail fungus include:

  • Fluconazole
  • Griseofulvin
  • Itraconazole
  • Terbinafine

If you have liver problems, these may not be the right option for you. Just please remember to include any liver concerns in your medical history when you set up an appointment.

Why is Toenail Fungus so Hard to Eliminate?

Toenail fungus is hard to get rid of because it can grow into all the layers of the nail. The fungus may start growing under or on top of the nail, and then it will slowly seep into the nail. That’s why oral antifungal treatment is the most effective way to get rid of an infection.

Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus?

The best way to take care of toenail fungus is to prevent an infection before it starts. Make sure you use shoes that fit well. If you visit public pools or gyms, make sure you use sandals to protect your feet from picking up an infection.

Moisture-wicking socks and foot powder can help keep your feet clean and dry and make it harder for the fungus to grow. Using antifungal creams, especially if you notice athlete’s foot, will protect your nails from infection.

Will I Have to Get My Toenail Trimmed?

If you have an advanced toenail fungal infection, you will most likely need to visit a podiatrist to safely remove the infection. Usually, this procedure involves no pain because advanced infections usually separate the nail from the nail bed.

Will I Need to Throw Away my Shoes?

Not necessarily, however, the fungus can live on shoes, sandals, nail clippers, and socks. You can use an antifungal spray to disinfect your shoes and socks. Additionally, so long as you thoroughly clean and disinfect your nail clippers, you won’t have to throw away your old ones.

Make An Appointment for Toenail Fungus and Nail Problems with Tennessee Telederm

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, make an online dermatology appointment with Kristen Stirling, APRN to start getting treatment.

What’s New In Diet and Dermatology

Can sugar really lead to acne?

The Relationship Between Diet and Acne

Diet is one of the foundations of health. Poor diets increase the risk of medical conditions in every system of the body. So how does diet affect dermatology?

Dr. Jonette Keri, Dermatology, University of Miami, recently shared a series of findings related to diet and skin conditions, specifically acne, on the Dermatology Digest podcast. The findings she shared focused on the effects of sugar, dairy and lifestyle medicine on acne.

What Is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle medicine is a movement that focuses on treating health conditions by helping patients change their lifestyles. For example, if a person is facing the risk factors that lead to higher instances of American diabetes and obesity, improving diet and exercise habits can reduce and mitigate those risks.

Similarly, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also put the body more at risk for several conditions. Therefore, changing these habits often help patients significantly improve their health.

So, Does Diet Really Affect Acne?

In short, yes. Although, there are a few misconceptions out there about which foods cause acne.

Does Chocolate Cause Pimples?

Does eating chocolate lead to acne?

No. Eating chocolate is not directly linked to the development of acne vulgaris. Dr. Keri mentioned that the misconception of chocolate causing acne goes back to one of the original studies in the 1960s. She postulates that this study lacked sufficient data, and yet because there wasn’t as much research available back then, the claims weren’t refuted until the past few years.

Dr. Keri also points out that the study did not account for the effect of dairy products on acne. Because of this oversight, Dr. Keri believes that the study requires more research, especially because chocolate often contains dairy and could have caused false-positive results.

Does Eating Sweets Cause Acne?

Whether eating candy and sweets causes acne is sort of like the chocolate question. There are too many ingredients and variations in candy in order to say scientifically and definitively that eating sweets cause acne.

However, the one thing all common types of sweets have in common is their high sugar content. And while there’s no evidence that eating foods with high levels of added sugar actually causes acne, regularly consuming foods with a high glycemic index does weaken the immune system. Therefore, a Western diet high in sugar increases the likelihood of either developing or worsening acne.

No research to suggest that diet causes acne. However, diet can worsen acne, specifically in patients with high glycemic (sugar) diets. Two recent studies show that diets higher in sugar (soda, tea, candy, processed foods) correlated with worsened acne in teen boys and women with metabolic polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

So if your diet consists mainly of high glycemic index (GI) foods, your acne may improve when you reduce your sugar intake. Keep in mind that results typically take at least 12 weeks to notice.

What About Dairy?

No research to suggest that dairy causes acne. However, there is significant evidence that the fat in milk has some protective effect on a person’s health, including against acne.

This is not new information, but we continue to confirm that skim milk products deprive the body of some necessary fat intake. The fat in milk has a protective effect on the body that we don’t yet understand, but know to be true.

Takeaway: There is no need to eliminate dairy intake to improve acne. You should, however, allow for some fat in the dairy products you consume, unless directed otherwise by a healthcare provider. Don’t exclude two percent milk from your diet, and don’t be afraid to get the full-fat yogurts.

The Role of the Gut Biome in Acne and Inflammatory Skin Conditions

There is a significant connection between the gut biome and the skin. We know that high carb diets and diets high in processed foods set off a series of processes in the gut which translate into more inflammation in the skin as well as other parts of the body.

Replacing the lost “good bacteria” from poor diet and antibiotic use does have a positive effect on inflammatory skin conditions. Though there are no specific recommendations for probiotic use, patients can try incorporating foods with probiotics added to them such as yogurt or acidophilus milk. Alternatively, patients can also use an OTC probiotic such as Align to support healthy gut function.

The Role of Diet in Acne

How Diet Affects Acne

What Are Good Health Foods or Supplements for Acne?

Other nutrients that may be useful for improving acne and rosacea include Zinc and Omega 3 fatty acids. To incorporate zinc and omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, simply consider adding foods such as nuts, beans, eggs, and healthy plant oils on a regular basis. Many OTC multivitamins contain Zinc and Omega 3 as well.

What are the best foods for your skin?

Beta Carotenes are good for your skin

The best foods for your skin are minimally processed foods that are high in essential nutrients that your body cannot produce on its own. You will want foods that contain healthy fats, beta carotene and vitamins.

  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Walnuts
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Don’t Overthink Diet and Acne

Healthy dietary changes can benefit many of the body’s systems, including the skin. Specifically, a diet full of high glycemic foods has the broadest effect on inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. So enjoy a soda or chocolate cake every now and then, but remember all good things in moderation!

Bonus Skin Care Advice

What is the best way to get clear skin?

If you have your diet under control, or just need help with clearing up acne, it is essential that you establish a regular skin care routine. No matter what your skin type is, a skin care routine will help you reduce current skin health problems and prevent further issues from developing. Especially, if you already experience mild acne.   Check out the skin care regimen blog.

What should I do if I have dry acne-prone skin?

Dry skin is often more sensitive and prone to breakout if not taken care of properly.

  1. Don’t Over-Wash your Skin
  2. Use a Light Moisturizer
  3. Cleanse Less Often
  4. Use A Non-Soap Gentle Cleanser
  5. Avoid Over-Exfoliating
  6. Don’t Use Make Up as Often
  7. Use a Humidifier

Additionally, you should look for skin care products that contain hyaluronic acid, and avoid products containing alcohol. These products increase how quickly your skin loses moisture, thus leaving you dried out.

How can one get rid of acne as quickly as possible?

First of all, you shouldn’t try to squeeze or pop pimples when they develop. Popping acne lesions can damage your skin leaving you with any number of acne scars.

Salicylic acid is a particularly helpful substance in the fight against acne. Try to find makeup products or skincare products to add to your routine.

Fighting acne is a long-term battle. As a result, quick fixes should not be the go-to answer. Read our past blog article for more about acne conditions and treatments.

Schedule an Appointment With Tennessee Telederm

If you need help managing acne, rosacea, eczema, or another dermatology condition, visit our Get Started page to set up an appointment today. Skip the waiting list, traffic, and the waiting room with our online dermatology services.

Acne: Types, Locations and Treatments

Acne information and tips from online dermatology business, Tennessee Telederm

Acne is the most common skin condition that affects all skin types. There are several types of acne, and while some of them can be treated with at-home acne treatment care and a solid skincare regimen, others may need further attention from a dermatologist. Learn more about the different types of acne, where they occur, and how to treat them.


What Causes Acne?

Several factors can cause acne to appear, however, hormone shifts are the primary cause. Think adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.  These normal and predictable seasons of change often produce many side effects, including acne.  Acne lesions may vary by type, number, and location, but nearly all acne is related to hormone shifts. 


Blackheads and Whiteheads


What is Comedonal Acne?

The medical term for these common types of acne is comedones or comedonal acne. Blackheads are open pores or hair follicles while whiteheads are closed pores or follicles. These are the most common types of acne that most–if not all–teenagers face.


Where Do You Get Blackheads and Whiteheads?

Blackheads and whiteheads occur near sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are the oil producing glands.  It makes sense then, that the most oily parts of the body, the face, neck and back, are at risk for comedonal acne. 


How to Take Care of Blackheads and Whiteheads

Acne treatment - skincare for guys in Tennessee

You should avoid picking, squeezing, or popping pimples, as it can cause unnecessary damage and scarring to your skin. Instead, I recommend using a cleanser twice a day that is designed for oily or combination skin.  These cleansers contain ingredients that cut through and remove the oil/dirt/makeup from the skin, thereby reducing pore clogging on top of the skin.  Washes containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid are all helpful.  Remember to wash then rinse.  Wipes are not good for acne-prone skin.  

Also, be aware that washes containing these acids may be too strong for some skin types. So, start slow, and try it just once per day until you notice how well your skin responds to this acne treatment.



Pustules are similar to whiteheads except that they are also inflammatory. These lesions are red bumps with a white top. Pustules can be treated with OTC benzoyl peroxide washes or leave on treatments. However, use caution as benzoyl peroxide is quite drying to the skin and can also bleach the fabric. There are many prescription strength products that can treat pustules as well. 


Cystic Acne


What Are Boils?

Boils are a more serious, progressed and painful version of a pustule. There are several types of boils that are classified depending on their make-up and the location where they occur on the skin.

Boils are a type of inflammatory acne that occurs when staph bacteria on the skin, slip under the skin and infect hair follicles. An early warning sign of a boil is folliculitis, where you may see lots of tiny whiteheads developing with redness and are tender to the touch.

A single boil will form around one hair follicle, and swell as the body tries to fight off the infection with more white blood cells. As the white blood cells die, the follicle will fill with pus and the boil will get bigger. 

Teenagers often experience developing several small boils on their face while their hormones are changing, which is often called cystic acne.

When several follicles are infected under the skin, the boil is called a carbuncle.  These can occur in skin folds of the body as well as the buttocks and often need oral antibiotics to treat.  


How to Take Care of a Boil

Most boils are mild enough to be taken care of with a few simple steps. Applying a warm compress at home can encourage the infectious material to rise to the surface of the skin and drain. Washing with OTC benzoyl peroxide wash offers some anti-infective protection as well. 

However, if a boil doesn’t improve, you should seek medical attention. You should seek immediate medical attention if you:

  • Develop a fever
  • Your lymph nodes begin to swell
  • The boil develops severe pain
  • The skin around the boil becomes red
  • Red streaks appear around the boil


Nodules or Cysts


Where Does Nodular Acne Form?

Nodular or cystic acne is a result of deep inflammation in the skin, causing a large and/or painful nodule to form.  This type of acne is not infectious, only inflamed.  Nodular acne can occur anywhere on the skin, but most often it develops on the lower face, upper back and shoulders.  This is most often seen in older teen males and adult females.


How to Treat Acne Nodules

Because nodular acne forms deep under the skin, it is much more difficult to treat with topical acne treatment.  Most patients will need oral medication to effectively and consistently clear their nodular/cystic acne.  Continue to wash twice a day and avoid oil containing skin products until your appointment.


Acne Scars

Dealing with acne scars in TN

Eventually, acne will lessen and go away, but pimples can leave scars that take years to eliminate. The good news is that you can treat them! As for the different types of acne scars, there are two main categories:

  1. Depressed or Atrophic Acne Scars
  2. Raised or Hypertrophic Acne Scars

Depressed scars include boxcar scars, ice pick scars and rolling scars which are classified by the width and depth of the scar. 

  • Boxcar scars are long and rectangular scars with hard edges. 
  • Ice pick scars are rounded scars that penetrate the deep layers of the skin.
  • Rolling scars have rounded edges, are very wide, and have a bumpy, rolling texture.

Raised scars are patches of hardened scar tissue raised above the surrounding skin due to high levels of collagen production during the healing process. 

Both types of scarring can be addressed with topical treatments.  


Make An Online Dermatology Appointment for Acne Treatment

If you’re experiencing acne for the first time or you’ve had it for years, make an appointment and get on the road to clear skin! Kristen Stirling, Nurse Practitioner, is an experienced dermatology provider with many years of experience treating acne and other skin conditions. Keep in mind that we can’t prescribe medications such as Accutane or birth control pills, as they are best handled by in-person practitioners.

Set up an appointment at your convenience, and we’ll talk to you then! Visit our Get Started page to make an appointment today.

Essential Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin in The Winter

a beautiful young woman applying facial cream outside in the winter to prevent dry skin.

Typically, as winter rolls around, the colder air becomes drier and so does your skin. However, not only does the cold winter air cause dry skin, but it also makes certain skin conditions worse. In our virtual dermatology practice, we often see patients with worse cases of eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and rosacea. Whether or not your skin type is more prone to react to dry winter weather, here are some winter skincare tips to help you avoid irritation and damage this winter.

How To Get Good Skin In the Winter?

A young black woman with healthy and hydrated skin in the winter time.

As the days get colder during winter, it doesn’t mean you have to make drastic changes to your skincare routine to have good skin. You just need to make a few small adjustments. Three general rules to follow for healthy and glowing winter skin are:

  1. Establish a solid skincare routine
  2. Protect your skin from the cold air
  3. Stay Hydrated

Obviously, there are different types of products that will work better than others during the winter. Some conditions tend to flare-up and get worse during the winter. If you have one of these skin conditions, like eczema, we’ve listed a few general tips, but for the best results, we invite you to schedule an online dermatology appointment.

How Can I Keep My Skin Hydrated in the Winter?

When we talk about winter skincare, most people are thinking about the skin on their face. However, the skin on your hands, and even your lower legs, is particularly susceptible to drying out in the winter. Most of the following tips in this section focus on keeping the skin on your face hydrated in the winter.

Use a Moisturizer

Neglecting or forgetting to moisturize is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. By itself, water tends to evaporate and can leave your skin with less water in it after you’ve washed your face. Especially if you enjoy taking long hot showers when the weather is cold. In fact, it’s the heat, more than anything pulls moisture out of your skin, leading to that dry cracked texture.

To prevent your skin from drying out, apply a moisturizer to your skin after you dry off. The moisturizer will lock in moisture and prevent your skin from drying out and cracking.

One moisturizer we recommend is Vanicream’s flagship product, the hand and body moisturizing cream, is the perfect addition to your winter skin care regimen. It is safe to use on all skin types including allergenic and atopic patients, as well as infants and children. 

Or if you need a product for acne-prone skin, try the LaRoche Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, Oil-Free Face Cream with Niacinamide.

Reduce How Often You Exfoliate or Cleanse

A woman washing her face before using a gentle facial cleanser during the winter to prevent drying out.

One thing you should keep in mind is that just because cold weather makes your skin drier, doesn’t mean you should stop using certain products altogether. In particular, if you use a retinol cleanser, or exfoliate more than twice a week, you should take it down just a bit during the winter. Try spacing out how often you use more abrasive products so your skin has more time to rejuvenate.

For drier or more mature or sensitive skin on the face, we recommend switching to the Vanciream Gentle Facial Cleanser during the winter months.

Pay Attention to How Long You Shower

Even though it feels so good to shower with hot water in the winter, it actually is one of the main reasons your skin dries out. After you get out of the shower and dry off, any remaining water on your skin will evaporate and also pull out some of your skin’s moisture.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t trade hot showers for cold showers, just don’t take extremely hot showers or long hot showers. The longer you expose your skin to hot water, the more your skin will lose water.

Use a Humidifier

Depending on where you live, winter months typically mean less humidity. In Tennessee, the air stays relatively humid throughout the year. Humid winter climates make it feel colder, but your skin won’t lose as much of its natural moisture.

If you live in a drier climate, try using a humidifier in your room to help your skin maintain its natural moisture. 

Use a Product with Hyaluronic Acid

Gels or ointments with hyaluronic acid (HA) can help you lock moisture into your skin. HA is a naturally occurring sugar that can hold more than 1000 times its weight in water. So products with HA will help pull water into your skin and help you keep it hydrated.

 Retinoid, Lactic and Glycolic Acid Are Also Helpful

A common type of chemical exfoliant, acids are naturally occurring compounds that break up dead skin cells so they sluff off naturally, revealing smoother and brighter skin. Acids also help other products better penetrate the skin, making those products more effective. However, you should make sure to only use an acid treatment at night as directed.

How Can I Take Care of Eczema in The Winter?

Applying cold cream to eczema can reduce swelling and itchiness. Call Tennessee Telederm for more help dealing with eczema this winter.

For many people, eczema causes dry itchy skin patches that flare-up in the winter. Other symptoms of eczema, or atopic dermatitis, include:

  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Small bumps that bleed and scab over
  • Sensitive skin
  • Swelling
  • Rough leathery patches of skin

At Tennessee Telederm, we have many years of experience treating every type of skin condition, including eczema. When we meet, we can discuss the severity of your symptoms and create a personalized treatment plan for you. 

As a general tip for managing eczema symptoms, try taking your normal hand cream and put it in the refrigerator. When you take it out to apply it, the coldness will impair the nerves causing the itch. You can also use coconut oil, barrier creams, or even petroleum jelly to protect your skin and help it heal.

However, each case is different, so when you set up an appointment with us, we can discuss your symptoms and health history to help you find the most effective treatment. As a result, you can save time, money and worry!

How Can I Prevent Dry and Cracking Hands?

What is the number one thing to keep your hands from drying out? Moisturizer! Be sure to apply it regularly, especially after washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. Be careful how often you warm your hands next to a heater too. The heat will dry your hands out more than warming them in gloves or your pockets.

Make sure to use hand creams over lotions because creams have a higher oil content that protects your hands from dryness and damage.

What Can I do for my Psoriasis? 

It depends on the severity of your symptoms. Psoriasis symptoms range anywhere from mild to severe. Psoriasis can also affect more than just the skin.  Psoriasis can attack the nails and joints.  For mild cases, you might be able to manage your symptoms with over the counter products.  However, in cases that involve more skin area or affect the nails or joints, an evaluation by a dermatology professional is most likely needed. 

Convenient Online Dermatology with Tennessee Telederm

If you’ve found these tips helpful, or have symptoms you would like to discuss with a dermal specialist, set up an appointment with Tennessee Telederm. We let you schedule your appointments at your convenience and meeting online means no waiting rooms, no masks, and no waiting in traffic.

We’re excited to meet with you, and we look forward to helping you keep your skin glowing and healthy this winter season.

Kristen Stirling Starts Revolutionary Telehealth Company

Kristen Stirling, NP, APRN, and dermatology expert at Tennessee Telederm. Founder of this team of online dermatologists.

Kristen Stirling (’06) MSN, APRN, FNP-BD founded Tennessee Telederm, PLLC, earlier this year. This is the first telehealth company of its kind in Tennessee, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions.

Prior to founding Tennessee Telederm, Kristen worked in dermatology at a large multi-specialty practice in Nashville for 13 years and the Burn Unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center prior to that.

At the onset of COVID-19, Kristen began offering telehealth appointments to her patients. Telehealth proved to be a popular and effective means for treating many skin conditions. Tennessee Telederm grew as a natural result of these safe and convenient appointments.

Tennessee Telederm strives to give everyone across Tennessee access to high-quality dermatology care through online video appointments. In each appointment, we create care plans for your dermatology condition using years of experience and the most current treatment modalities.

Source: Belmont University: Kristen Stirling (’06) Starts Revolutionary Telehealth Company

Common Skincare Issues

Get Treatment for Common Skincare Issues with online video appointments with Tennessee Telederm

Your skin is your body’s largest defense against disease and contamination. Rain or shine, it puts up with exposure to germs, bacteria, UV rays, allergens and more. As a result, it’s rare for anyone to make it through life without developing experiencing a common skin condition.

As an online dermatology practice, Tennessee Telederm frequently treats these common skin conditions through video appointments. If you’re waiting for your appointment and have questions about a skin condition, we hope this article will help you learn more about the health of your skin.


Anyone over the age of 13 has more than likely experienced some type of acne. Acne is the most common skin condition that people experience. Thankfully, because it is so common, there are many treatments available.

Acne often occurs during the teenage years, but breakouts can continue throughout the lifespan. Some cases of acne can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but they don’t always work for everyone.

Serious cases of acne are better treated by prescription medications that address the causes of acne, inflammation.  But you must also maintain good hygiene and wash your face regularly to get the best results.

However, your skin’s natural makeup may need more specialized attention. When you set up an appointment with Tennessee Telederm, we will discuss your skin’s unique properties in detail. From there, we will help you build a personalized treatment plan to get you the best results.

Bacterial Skin Infections

The most common bacterial skin infections are caused by either Staphylococcus or streptococcus. When these bacteria find ways to slip under the skin, they cause infections that can appear as boils, abscesses or even just redness and swelling.

We can help you identify these types of infections and write a prescription for the appropriate medicine. If your infection is more serious or develops into a condition like cellulitis, we can help you. However, if you develop a fever with an abscess or boil, you should seek treatment in the ER or urgent care immediately.

HSV 1 & 2

Herpes Simplex Virus, also known as HSV, is a common skin condition that many people experience. HSV 1 usually causes skin issues such as cold sores. It’s also typically called oral herpes. Usually, it shows up as a blister or series of blisters around your mouth. HSV spreads quite easily, so you shouldn’t pick at the sores if you don’t want them to spread.  HSV 2 occurs in the pelvic region and can also be easily treated.

If you have an HSV infection, make an appointment with Tennessee Telederm and we can get you on the road to improvement.   

Fungal Infections


There are several types of fungal infections which include tinea and candida infections. Also known as ringworm, tinea infections can appear anywhere on the body as an itchy, circular, discolored patch of skin. These patches may also appear scaly and can lead to hair loss if it occurs on the scalp. Tinea is also the fungus that causes athlete’s foot and jock itch.

If you need treatment for a tinea infection, you can buy an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream. So long as you regularly apply the medicine, your symptoms should improve within two weeks.

However, if your symptoms do not get better, or get worse, you should make an appointment with your doctor in order to give you a more specific diagnosis. Because tinea is easy to identify, we are happy to examine and identify your symptoms through our secure video chat.

Tinea can also infect your toenails. And because dermatology involves treating hair, skin and nails, we are happy to help you find answers for your current skin conditions.

Candida Infections

Other fungal infections include yeast infections, caused by the fungus candida. These infections occur in moist, warm, and high-friction areas of the body, such as the armpits and around the groin. It can also occur in the mouth. Thankfully, these infections are easy to treat with Tennessee Telederm.


The most common symptom of rosacea is redness. Particularly around the nose and cheeks where you might be more prone to flushing. In fact, rosacea is commonly mistaken for naturally occurring ruddiness and even acne.

We can treat rosacea with a variety of topical preparations. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need oral medication.


Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema shows up as red, dry and itchy skin. Some cases may develop bumps and swelling while the skin becomes scaly and patchy. There is no permanent cure for eczema, but consistent self-care and medication should significantly improve your symptoms. 

If left untreated, eczema can become increasingly uncomfortable. You should especially seek help if your eczema develops a secondary infection.


Get treatment for dermatitis with Tennessee Telederm

Any other type of moderate skin irritation usually falls under the umbrella of dermatitis. This also includes mild cases of eczema, irritant contact dermatitis (poison ivy), rashes, blisters, and any type of crusty or flaky skin. It can also occur within the hairline, causing dandruff in the case of seborrheic dermatitis.


Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), warts are a common and harmless raised bump that can appear anywhere on the body. Typically, the most common warts occur on the hands and feet. If warts are picked at, the virus can spread across your hands and even to your face. 

Certain strains of HPV are more concerning as they can cause cervical, anorectal, and head and neck cancers. Tennessee TeleDerm can provide counseling regarding these risks and a variety of options for treating genital warts.

It’s also possible to develop warts from contact with someone who does not have warts. Every person’s immune system reacts differently to HPV. As a result, someone whose skin does not react to HPV may transfer the virus to someone else whose skin does react.

Two other types of warts are plantar warts and flat warts. A plantar wart is a type of wart on your foot that grows into your skin. If you’ve never had a plantar wart, they might be confused with calluses, except for the tiny black pinpricks at their center. These are small clotted blood vessels that have been trapped in the wart.

Typically, treatment for warts involves either using topical medications like salicylic acid or other peeling medicines to remove warts. At Tennessee Telederm we can prescribe you medicine through an online appointment.

Skin Discoloration

Two common skin discoloration conditions we treat at Tennessee Telederm are melasma and poikiloderma. Melasma is also known as sun damage and appears as greyish-brown spots on your face across your forehead, cheeks, upper lip and nose. Sun exposure is the main cause of melasma, and therefore the main treatment is using a quality sunscreen.

Poikiloderma, on the other hand, is a condition caused by sun damage and many other factors. This condition causes brownish-red spots to form on your skin in areas exposed to sunlight. Your skin also will appear more worn and begin to atrophy or thin out.

You may not notice your symptoms developing all at once. Poikiloderma appears subtly at first, but the symptoms will develop more as time goes on.

Online Dermatology Care for Common Skin Conditions

From dry skin to dermatitis, we can treat any kind of skin condition at Tennessee Telederm.

Telehealth has made accessing quality skincare convenient and easy. With Tennessee Telederm, you can schedule an appointment that fits with your schedule, avoid traffic, and avoid waiting in a doctor’s office. We’re happy and excited to help you find easy treatments for common skin conditions.

So, to get help taking care of your skin, hair and nails, visit our Get Started page and set up your appointment today.