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Optima Dermatology Has Opened an Easton Area Practice in Columbus, Ohio

Quality Dermatology Care for Easton Area Residents

Optima Dermatology is pleased to announce the opening of our Easton area practice. We take great pride in making access to our expert skin care easy and convenient, and we’re excited to be serving patients in this community.

The practice is located just three miles from the Easton town center and is currently accepting new patients. Our exceptional care, provided by Dr. Meeks and her expert staff, treats a broad range of medical dermatology conditions and diseases, including skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, and more. Cosmetic services, including fillers and neurotoxin injections such as Botox® and Dysport®.

Referrals and Our Provider Relationships

We look forward to building trusted partnerships with the local medical community for a more seamless approach to patient referrals and care. We believe in close collaboration to ensure a positive experience for both patients and providers, and to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for dermatological skin care.

We work hard to make the referral process easy for patients and providers. If you are a provider interested in learning more about our services and our new Easton area clinic, or a new patient looking to schedule an appointment with Dr. Meeks, you can contact us or get more information here.

Leading With Expertise: Get to Know Dr. Natalie Meeks

We’re thrilled to introduce Dr. Natalie Meeks, board certified dermatologist who will be serving patients at the Easton location and overseeing her expert team. Dr. Meeks shares Optima Dermatology’s core value of treating every patient the way we would want our friends and family to be treated, and has applied that approach to her patient care throughout her career. 

We are confident patients and providers in the Easton area will enjoy working with Dr. Meeks and will find incredible value in her expert care. 

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Meeks and learn a little bit more about her, and we’re excited to share our Q&A so you can get to know her too!

Q: Where did you go to school, and did you know you wanted to be a dermatologist from the start?

A: I went to school at Eastern Virginia Medical School, 20 minutes from my parents’ house in Virginia beach. I wanted to stay as close as possible to my family, so I chose this school for that reason! I sure am glad I did because I met my Ohio-native husband on the very first day of medical school. He is the whole reason I moved to Ohio and I am very glad we ended up here! 

I went to medical school wanting to be a Pediatric Oncologist; however, after my third year rotations through the wards, I realized that it was not the path for me. As a pediatric cancer survivor myself, being around the unit that I spent so many hours on was too hard emotionally. I knew I had to find a different specialty to channel my desire for medicine. 

Q: Why did you choose dermatology? What did the path to get there look like for you? 

A: Dermatology kind of snuck up on me during a free clinic I was volunteering at. I will never forget coming home to my husband – then boyfriend – and telling him I loved Dermatology and I was going to apply.

I chose Dermatology because I loved how you could see the results of your care. Not with some numbers you follow or an x-ray, but with your own eyes. And your patient’s could see and appreciate those results as well. I found it extremely rewarding. Initially I had no interest in Dermatology. I frequently volunteered at a student run health clinic where they had different subspecialties represented. I was sort of pushed to run the Dermatology clinic one night when the original volunteer didn’t show up. Although I was initially quite upset, after three hours I was hooked and I knew I had to switch my career path. 

Q: What is your number one tip when it comes to taking care of your skin?

A: I think the best thing you can do for your skin is use liberal sunscreen and a great retinoid. Skin care doesn’t have to be fancy, although it totally can be! A great moisturizer with a strong SPF daily can really work magic over years of use in preventing that dreaded sun damage. Additionally, a good retinol at night can really help with fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentary changes with consistent long-term use. 

Q: What do you like to do when you are not in the office?

A: I have three kids under the age of 4, so I spend most of my time with my children and my husband. However, when I do get a few seconds to myself I love to run and work out. Something I hope to be able to do more as my kids grow! 

Q: If there was one thing you wish your patients knew about you, what would it be?

A: I want my patients to know that I put my heart and soul into my job. I will do all that I can to make sure that they get excellent care. If I can’t be the one to solve their problem, I’ll make sure that I find the right person who will. 

And if you’re looking for some facts that are a little more fun, my patients should know that I am very down-to-earth. I grew up in a beach town in Virginia surfing with my brother and dad on a frequent basis! 

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being a dermatologist?

A: My favorite aspect is that I get to meet so many amazing people and be a part of their long-term healthcare. I hope that I can form relationships with my patients that will last a lifetime. Everyone needs a skin check every year and I love that I get to see my patients often and help keep them healthy. 

Q: What is your approach to treating your patients?

A: I think that the most important thing about my approach is that I really listen. I went to school for a long time and I know what the textbook says, but my patients know their own bodies better than anyone. I am there to help guide them to finding the correct diagnosis and treatment they need, and I try to combine their wishes and my expertise. No patient is treated the same; I make sure everyone is individually taken care of the way that they need. 

I love all aspects of dermatology, and I love seeing a variety of patients everyday.

Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Skin Conditions in Young Athletes

Tips for Parents As Kids Head Back to School

The occasional pulled muscle, ankle sprain, or even broken bone are well-known, albeit unfortunate, byproducts of playing any sport. A lesser-realized risk, however, are the skin conditions in young athletes that, while common, have the potential to sideline a player.

Athletes in particular are at greater risk of developing a skin condition because of being in close contact with other players, and the presence of sweat and wetness against the skin that provides an ideal environment for bacteria. 

In most cases, skin conditions in young athletes won’t prevent their participation in a sport, but there are more serious skin infections where contact should be avoided. However, with sports clubs and teams starting up with back-to-school in the fall, both you and your young athletes should be aware of different skin conditions, how to treat them, and how they can be prevented. 

Skin Conditions in Young Athletes You Should Know About

Due to the unique conditions of gyms and the environment that is present in contact sports, bacteria often grow easily and can infect unsuspecting young athletes who simply suffered a scrape or forgot to bandage an open wound. 

In some cases, these skin conditions and infections can be more long-term and require ongoing treatment, and depending on the severity, they can impact a player’s ability to participate. Early identification and treatment, however, can make a significant difference. 

Staph infections. The risk of contracting a staph infection is one of the primary reasons why it is important to bandage any open sore before going to a gym facility or playing a contact sport. The bacteria, staphylococcus aureus, spreads through skin-to-skin contact and enters the body easily through open wounds. Staph can cause a number of different types of infections; the most common to athletic environments are cellulitis and skin abscesses, both of which affect the inner layer of the skin. 

Ringworm. Primarily a risk for young athletes who come in close contact with one another and share equipment like helmets or gloves, Ringworm, which is caused by a fungus (not a worm), can cause a number of different skin reactions. Ringworm spreads easily between infected people, animals, or objects contaminated with the fungus, such as a piece of equipment or a locker room floor. Depending on which part of the body it affects, Ringworm has different names: when it impacts the feet it is known as Athlete’s Foot; when it impacts the groin it is often called Jock Itch, and when it impacts the scalp it is known as Scalp Ringworm.

Warts. There are many different types of warts individuals can develop as a result of physical contact, and young athletes in particular contract them easily, commonly on the bottom of the feet or in-between fingers. They may impact participation in sports depending on where they are located and how severe they are, but warts are typically very treatable. 

Molluscum. This contagious skin infection causes raised lesions or bumps called Mollusca on the skin primarily in exposed areas. Mollusca live only in the top layer of the skin, and this skin infection is especially prevalent among young athletes because it can easily be spread through person-to-person contact. 

Impetigo. Caused by strains of both staphylococcus aureus bacteria and streptococcus bacteria, Impetigo is highly contagious but easy to treat. It is more common among children and spreads easily in athletic environments due to close contact between players and the prevalence of a warm or humid environment. 

Other Skin Conditions

Young athletes are prone to developing skin conditions that are temporary or non-contagious and, depending on severity, unlikely to impact their participation in a sport. These skin conditions are more common and rarely are cause for concern.

Cuts, scrapes, and other skin sores. Young athletes often develop skin injuries like cuts, scrapes, blisters, or friction burns. While common and often seen as minor, these injuries should be treated and well-bandaged to prevent blood or other fluids from coming into contact with other players. As long as the player can still comfortably participate, these skin injuries shouldn’t impact participation. 

Folliculitis. Easily spread through skin-to-skin contact, Folliculitis manifests as small, itchy red bumps or white head pimples and occurs when the hair follicles become infected and inflamed. Folliculitis can appear anywhere on the skin and is typically caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Bacterial Folliculitis is generally caused by staphylococcus aureus after it enters the body through an open wound. Folliculitis typically clears on its own, but in more severe cases, a dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal cream.

Psoriasis. This itchy, chronic, autoimmune skin disease is not caused by athletics; rather, certain athletic conditions can cause flare ups or discomfort for individuals who suffer from psoriasis. For young athletes, avoiding scrapes and skin lesions during play can help reduce the onset of psoriasis symptoms. During flare ups, players should avoid synthetic fabrics, use skin-protecting lotions and sunblock, stay hydrated, and clean off immediately to limit the amount of time sweat stays on the body. Psoriasis is not contagious. Click here to learn more about psoriasis.

How Young Athletes Can Avoid Contracting Skin Conditions and Infections

Contact between players is often inevitable in sports, but there are precautions young athletes can take to minimize their exposure to and risk of a skin condition or infection. 

Young athletes are likely not thinking about the risks of skin conditions and infections when they’re out on the field or in the gym, but prevention is far easier than having to treat what can be severe or highly uncomfortable symptoms.

Additionally, many of these skin conditions or infections can impact an entire team – not just a single player – if allowed to spread. The earlier they are identified and treated, the better. It is a good idea to routinely conduct skin checks on young athletes to be sure there are no skin anomalies present. 

In the event of a skin condition or infection in your young athlete, Optima Dermatology is here to help. We are committed to helping our patients navigate treatment and get young athletes back in the game as soon as possible.

Request an appointment for a routine back-to-school skin check or to explore treatment.

What is Psoriasis? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

How to Identify and Manage this Common, Inflammatory Skin Disease

There can be many causes of itchy, red, burning or stinging skin, but if it is persistent and won’t go away on its own, you may have psoriasis. What is psoriasis? It’s a chronic skin disease that can affect any part of the body, but is often found on the knees, elbows, or scalp.

The National Psoriasis Foundation explains that psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system in which the growth of skin cells occurs very quickly. It takes about a month for normal skin cells to finish growing and be shed from the body. With psoriasis, skin cells finish growing every few days, and instead of shedding, they pile up on the surface of the skin.

In most cases, psoriasis is characterized by raised areas, or plaques, on the skin that are typically red, itchy, and can burn or sting.

Psoriasis is not contagious, and is not always hereditary. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes psoriasis in a certain individual, but we do know that it occurs when the immune system is reacting to a triggering event, which can include illness, stress, exposure to hot or cold temperatures, contact with an allergen, or even trauma to the skin, such as a burn or scrape.

Do I Have Psoriasis?

If you are experiencing itchy, red, burning or stinging skin, always contact your dermatologist for a clear diagnosis. Individuals who suffer from psoriasis describe it as a persistent burning, stinging itch; different from something more benign like a rash or irritation.

There are actually five primary types of psoriasis that can all affect different parts of the body. Some individuals have more than one type of psoriasis. 

Plaque Psoriasis: This most common type affects 80-90 percent of individuals diagnosed with psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis manifests as raised patches of skin called plaques, which are itchy, red, inflamed, and often appear to have silvery scales or even a dark coloration, depending on skin type.

Inverse Psoriasis: Affecting about 25% of those living with psoriasis, inverse psoriasis is most commonly identified by the lack of scales on the skin that are so common with plaque psoriasis. It is also most often found within skin folds – under arms, under the breasts, or in the genital or buttocks areas.

Guttate Psoriasis: Slightly different in appearance from other types of psoriasis, guttate psoriasis typically manifests as small red spots, and is frequently found on the arms, legs, chest, stomach, or back. Guttate psoriasis is less common, affecting about 8 percent of those living with psoriasis.

Pustular Psoriasis: A far smaller population of people (about 3 percent) are affected by this type of psoriasis, which is characterized by pus-filled bumps that are painful and irritated. While it is most commonly found on the hands and feet, it can also appear on any area of the body.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Very rarely, individuals with psoriasis may develop erythrodermic psoriasis, which causes redness and excessive shedding of skin layers. About 2 percent of people with psoriasis suffer from erythrodermic psoriasis, and it can be severe enough to be life threatening. Symptoms include itching and pain, an almost burned appearance of the skin, as well as more serious conditions such as changes in heart rate or dehydration.

In some cases, psoriasis can lead to other health conditions, including psoriatic arthritis, which can cause symptoms of arthritis in the joints, and affects about 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis. Psoriasis can also affect fingernails and toenails, causing pain, pitting of the nail, separation of the nail from the nail bed, or coloration changes.

While these types of psoriasis vary widely in how they affect people, and can be more mild or more severe depending on the flare-up and other physical or environmental factors, you should always contact your healthcare provider or dermatologist to ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Eczema vs. Psoriasis: What’s the Difference?

Like psoriasis, eczema is a very common skin condition that causes red, itchy, and sometimes flaky patches on the skin. While individuals with psoriasis report more burning and stinging associated with their flare-ups, eczema can look and feel very similar, making it difficult to self-diagnose.

Ultimately, your dermatologist needs to make the final call, but there are a few characteristics of eczema that set it apart from psoriasis.

When considering eczema vs. psoriasis, there are almost more similarities than differences, which underscores the need to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Psoriasis Treatment: How to Manage Symptoms

About 7.5 million Americans, and 125 million people worldwide, are living with psoriasis. Psoriasis currently has no definitive cure, and because it’s a chronic disease, those who have it will have it for life. While psoriasis can occur at any age, it first appears most commonly in individuals between the ages of 15 and 35.

The symptoms of psoriasis do come and go, and the onset of symptoms, or flare-ups, can vary in severity. The goals of psoriasis treatment are to reduce the occurrence of flare-ups, and to reduce the severity of those flare-ups when they happen.

There are a few different ways to manage psoriasis. Patients may try multiple approaches before finding one or more that make a difference.

Within the last few years, different prescription drug treatments, or biologics, have come onto the market to help people manage their psoriasis, and have been found to be highly effective in treating psoriasis symptoms. However, individuals should consult with their doctor prior to taking a biologic, as these drugs can suppress the immune system in ways that can lead to serious infections, such as tuberculosis.

Biologic treatments are often considered for individuals who are not responding to any other type of psoriasis treatment, but there are other medications available that can be used when other drugs can’t be given.

These drugs can be administered orally in liquid or pill form, or through an injection or intravenous infusion. It is best to speak with your dermatologist about the right medication to treat your psoriasis.

Creating Greater Awareness Around Psoriasis

Finding a treatment is important for reducing the discomfort that can come with psoriasis flare-ups, but for many individuals suffering from psoriasis, there is an emotional impact as well. Even mild psoriasis can make individuals feel self-conscious or lead to social and mental health consequences. With stress being considered a trigger for psoriasis, it can create a challenging cycle for individuals feeling anxious about the appearance of their psoriasis when in public settings.

Fortunately, awareness about psoriasis has grown exponentially. The month of August is National Psoriasis Month, helping to spread information about this disease and make those who suffer from it feel less isolated. Coupled with television commercials for psoriasis drug treatments and billboards and other advertising highlighting the challenges of psoriasis, there is far more acceptance and hope for people with psoriasis than ever before.

At Optima Dermatology, we are committed to helping our patients find the right psoriasis treatment. Our goal is to give you power over your psoriasis so you can manage your flare-ups and get back to your life.

Request an appointment today for a diagnosis and to begin conquering your psoriasis.

5 Tips to Protect Your Children’s Skin This Summer

Did you know, it only takes one serious sun burn during childhood or adolescence to nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life? Unfortunately, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Fortunately, you can decrease chances of developing melanoma by practicing proper skin protection with your children from day one.

Here are 5 tips to protect your child from harmful UV rays and overexposure. 

Stay in the Shade

This may seem obvious, but shade is the best form of protection from the sun. Keep your child in the shade as much as possible. Be ready to create your own by having an umbrella, canopy, or stroller hood handy. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are also great ways to provide personal shade.

Sun-Protective Clothing

Resist the urge to put your little one in shorts and a sleeveless shirt on a hot day. Light, long-sleeved shirts and pants are an excellent protective layer for their sensitive skin. UPF clothing, specifically designed to protect skin from UV rays, is another great option. When purchasing UPF protective clothing, keep an eye out for the UPF rating. UPF ratings indicate what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric. A fabric must have a UPF rating of more than 15 to be considered sun protective. A rating of UPF 30 is sufficient, but UPF 50 will provide the best sun protection.

Apply Sunscreen, Properly

If your child is younger than six months old, limit the frequency and amount with which you apply sunscreen on them. For children older than six months 30 SPF, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is recommended. Have you heard of the “teaspoon and shot glass rule”? To make sure you are applying the correct amount of sunscreen, Harvard Health recommends 1 teaspoon of sunscreen to cover the face and neck, and enough to fit a shot glass (approximately 1 ounce) for remaining exposed areas. Always remember to reapply immediately after swimming (even if it is water-resistant!) and every two hours.

Avoid the Strongest Rays

Direct sunlight is dangerous, and it is typically strongest from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Try to stay in the shade, dress in sun-protective clothing and apply sunscreen properly during these hours. Be cautious even on cloudy and overcast days. The “invisible sun” can cause sun damage and sun burns!

Be Careful Around Water and Sand

Water and sand reflect sunlight, making the damaging rays of the sun much stronger. If your child is out and about near sun and water, be sure to practice the sun protection practices we’ve outlined here.

Protecting your children from the dangers of skin cancer (let alone parenting in general) is a daunting task. With these tips and expert recommendations, you will have an excellent foundation to keep your child safe and raise skin cancer awareness in your family.  Remember that these practices are important all year round! While risk is heightened during the warmer summer months, skin damage can occur year-round.

If you are looking for an annual skin check, dermatology services or just want to know more, contact Optima Dermatology today!