By Carla Selby

The skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and an excellent indicator of what may be going on below the surface. Visiting your dermatologist on a regular basis is just as important as visiting your primary care provider or dentist. Each visit allows your doctor to check in with your current state of skin health and potentially spot any early signs of problems. 

Given the fact that it is easier to treat symptoms the earlier they are found, you will be doing yourself a big favor by staying on top of your skin care and remembering to schedule regular dermatology appointments. 

With a beautiful office conveniently located at the Trinity Professional Park on Duck slough Blvd behind outback, Dermatologist Liza Brown, D.O., F.A.A.D., specializes in skin cancer detection and removal, cosmetic botox, fillers, chemical peels, fat destruction, as well as diagnosing and treating difficult skin cases. Dr. Brown is a proud Trinity, FL native and she is Board Certified by the American Academy of Dermatology. “I was inspired to become a dermatologist to help my grandfather who had suffered from severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for most of his life,” says Dr. Brown, who completed her medical school training in Bradenton, FL and her residency training in Miami, Fl with some of the country’s best cosmetic, medical and surgical dermatologists. “I knew once I finished my training I wanted to come home and give back to my community.”

Most of us place a huge amount of confidence in our doctors, entrusting them with our health, and at times, our very lives. Patients are in a vulnerable position, with the balance of power often tipped in favor of your healthcare provider. This is why open two-way communication, trust, and mutual respect are essential in doctor-patient relationships. You wouldn’t want someone you don’t trust handling small everyday matters for you, much less diagnosing and treating any possible health condition. For Dr. Brown trust is the foundation of her relationship with each one of her patients. She is professional, caring and attentive. Dr. Brown will carefully listen to all your concerns and make you feel at ease. “I treat my patients like I would treat my own family,” says Dr. Brown. “I use the most up to date treatment guidelines and advanced medical treatments to get my patients the best results possible. Every patient is seen by me, the physician. We don’t aim for quantity, we aim for quality and I think that makes all the difference in the world.”

Nearly half of Americans over age 65 have some type of skin disease. Skin diseases are often serious, and many can actually be fatal. Melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, is increasing at the fastest rate of all cancers in the United States. Many people believe that it develops only in sun-exposed areas, has to be raised, develops only in a mole, and occurs only in light skinned people and the elderly, but none of that is correct. In fact, melanoma can occur even in teenagers, may occur on skin that does not have any moles, may be completely flat, develop on any part of your body, and not cause any symptoms. Melanoma can therefore fly under the radar unless you look for it. “I perform full skin exams and use dermoscopy as a tool to aid me in skin cancer detection,” says Dr. Brown. “I also offer dermtech non-invasive sticker biopsies for borderline lesions.” Full body skin exams take roughly 30 minutes, if any procedure is needed, then it may take a little longer.

There is no case too big or too small for Dr. Brown, she is ready to tackle and solving them all. “I enjoy treating and solving difficult dermatology cases. The ability to have bedside diagnostics such as simple skin scrapping and millimeter biopsy techniques allows for rapid diagnoses of cutaneous rashes, infections and skin cancers. Every day it’s like having an exciting new puzzle to solve. Our fast biopsy result rate allows for a quick resolution to the patient’s problem and being able to treat most dermatological issues, and occasionally cure them on the post is very rewarding.”  As for the best part of her profession Dr. Brown says, “I love being able to build relationships with my patients, help them feel and look better, and increase their self-esteem.”

The Sunshine State – A Blessing and a Curse For Your Skin

Living in Florida can be both a blessing and curse for your skin health. You may benefit from multiple outdoor activities, but the frequent exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, can have dangerous consequences.  Exposure to UV traditionally causes the skin to create more melanin, which gives you that beautiful tanned look. Although you may love having that golden appearance, that color shows your skin cells have been damaged. UV exposure can lead to:

1) Signs of premature agin, such as lines and wrinkles

2) Brown spots or discoloration

3) Lax skin

4) Skin Cancer

“Signs of sun damage include deep tan, leathery appearance, dry, cracked, wrinkled skin, with discoloration as well as many areas of freckling, nevi, mixed with pink scaled areas of pre-cancerous and possibly cancerous cells,” says Dr. Brown. “You will notice thinning of the skin, loss of elasticity and easy bruising.”

Protect yourself from the sun and don’t let the desired for sun-kissed skin ruin your health. “Living in the Sunshine State it is important to get a skin exam at least once yearly. I highly encourage using sunblock to prevent sun damage, sin cancer, signs of aging, loss of elasticity and wrinkles, pigment, melanoma, sunspots and many more conditions,” says Dr. Brown. “Remembering to apply sunscreen, at least SPF 30 every single day, regardless if you’re spending time outdoors will keep your skin looking young and cancer free. I recommend different sunscreens according to my patient’s skin type; Elta MD, La Roche Posay, Neutrogena, Obagi and Revision are all amazing sunscreens in different forms for different patients with different skin issues. Wearing a hat and sun shirt as well as staying in the shade or avoiding sun exposure between 10:00am – 4:00pm is the best way to prevent sun damage.”Daily sunscreen and a nightly topical Retin-A or Vitamin A derivative are great anti-aging treatments. “Ideally, in a perfect world, you would want to wash your face in the morning with a PH balanced cleanser,” says Dr. Brown. “Apply your daily sunscreen, moisturizes and a topical Vitamin C (If you’re non-acne prone). At night time, wash your face again and apply your nightly Retin-A, eye cream, neck cream and if pigment prone, then possibly other night time formulations as well. As we start to age wrinkles become more prominent, facial fat begins to droop, pigment darkens and bone loss occurs. We can correct these problems with neurotoxin such as Botox, fillers, fat dissolving Kybella, Sculptra, chemical peels, microneedling and lasers.”

ABCDE Rule

Dr. Brown recommends her patients to check their own skin and get familiarized with their own moles and body at least once a month. She also mentions following the ABCDE rule for noticing weird moles. “The ABCDE rule is a guideline to evaluate for early melanoma or dysplastic, atypical moles,” says Dr. Brown. “A stands for Asymmetry , you want to make sure your moles aka Nevi are perfectly round . B stands for border. It’s important to make sure your nevi have a nice smooth border and don’t look jagged or like a cloud. C stands for color. Any new pigment brown or black in an existing lesion that creates more than one color . D stands for diameter. Anything greater than a pencil eraser or 6mm needs to be monitored . And Finally E stands for evolution. Or anything changing , itching, bleeding.  That last rule really goes for any skin cancers . If you have a lesion that is new, looks like a pimple but doesn’t resolve , not going away, a scab that comes and goes or any rough scaly patches you should come in for an exam . There are melanomas that are amelanotic which means no pigment , so if you see a new pink spot in a sun damaged area it’s important to have that checked out. You can see with the many forms of skin cancer presentations why it’s so important to get an exam by a qualified physician who has spent years studying the skin.”

Your Diet Affects Your Skin

Sure, your diet  keeps your body slim and healthy, but its impact doesn’t stop there. The food you eat-from wrinkle-fighting antioxidants in fruits and vegetables to hydrating healthy fats in fish-may matter to your skin almost as much as it does to your waistline. 

While skin inflammation can be attributed to sun damage, many a times it is the foods we consume that are the real monsters behind inflamed skin. Sugar, processed meats, dairy, sodas, fried foods and gluten may all affect your skin in negative ways. Everything you consume can either benefit or hurt your body. “Eating nutrient-rich whole foods, grains and health fats as well as drinking plenty of water, getting enough rest and exercise are good for your whole body, including your skin,” says Dr. Brown. “While many other people report flares with different foods, they may be more prone to acne when eating those certain items. Rosacea, a common skin disorder, will flare with increased temperature foods, spicy foods and alcohol. While there are other diseases such as Dermatitis herpetiformis that are caused by gluten sensitivity.”

Skin Cancer Checkups Can Save Your Life

If you haven’t been to a dermatologist in a while, or ever… If your acne is not responding to an over-the-counter skin treatment, if you want to get a skin cancer screen,  if you have eczema, psoriasis, visible skin damage, redness, itching, scars, stretch marks, if your nails are breaking or you are experiencing hair loss, then it is time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brown.  Remember… regular checkups for skin cancer can save your life. 

You can talk to Dr. Brown regarding any concerns you have about almost any condition that is affecting your appearance. Before scheduling please check with your health insurance plan to find out what services are covered and whether you need a referral from your primary care physician.  Write down a list of any mendicants and supplements you’re currently taking and bring a list of questions and concerns to discuss. 

 “My friendly staff and I look forward to getting to know you and your family, and improving your skin health,” says Dr. Brown. 

Dermatology Associates, Liza Brown, D.O., F.A.A.D., is located at 2160 Duck Slough Blvd STE 103, Trinity, FL 34655. Call (727) 807-9070 to schedule your appointment. Visit https://dermdrbrown.com/ for more information.