General Dermatology

Charlottesville Dermatology specializes in diagnosis and treatment of general skin conditions for children and adults, such as:


Acne is the term for plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms. Acne is a common skin condition caused by inflammation of the hair follicles and oil-producing (sebaceous) glands of the skin. Acne may begin during puberty, and affects about 80 percent of all adolescents as well as many adults.

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Actinic Keratoses

Actinic keratoses (AKs) are the early beginnings of skin cancer. This most common lesion of the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) is caused by long-term exposure to sunlight (specifically to ultraviolet wavelengths). AKs are defined as a cutaneous dysplasia of the epidermis. In everyday terms, AKs are an alteration in size, shape and organization of skin cells.

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Allergic Skin Conditions

  • Contact Dermatitis is a form of skin inflammation that occurs because the skin has been exposed to a substance that irritates it or that causes an allergic reaction. A long list of natural and synthetic chemicals can trigger contact dermatitis, including those found in soaps, household cleaners, laundry detergents, metal jewelry, perfumes, industrial solvents, cosmetics, fabric finishes, shampoos, plants and even antibiotic ointments. As a result, the problem can develop in an almost endless variety of ways.
  • Hives, also called urticaria, are rounded or oval swellings (bumps) on the skin that often are itchy. Sometimes they are red, but they don’t have to be. Hives happen when the cells in the skin called mast cells release histamine, a chemical that causes tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to leak fluid. When this leaking fluid accumulates in the skin, it forms the small swellings that we recognize as hives. Hives can be triggered by physical factors such as heat, cold, exercise, sunlight, stress, sustained pressure on a skin area such as pressure from a belt or shoulder strap, a sudden increase in body temperature caused by a fever or a hot bath or shower, or an irritating chemical, cosmetic or soap applied to the skin. Hives also can be one symptom of a systemic (whole-body) allergic reaction to something that was inhaled, ingested or injected.
  • Poison Ivy, Poison Oak & Poison Sumac belong to the cashew family. The tissues of all these plants contain a poisonous oil, Urushiol that is extremely irritating to the skin. It may be brushed onto the clothing or skin of people coming in contact with the plants. The first symptom is a severe itching of the skin, followed by a red inflammation and blistering. In severe cases, oozing sores develop.

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Atypical Moles (Dysplastic Nevi)

About one out of every ten people has at least one unusual (or atypical) mole that looks different from an ordinary mole. The medical term for these unusual moles is dysplastic nevi. Doctors believe that dysplastic nevi are more likely than ordinary moles to develop into a type of skin cancer called melanoma. Because of this, moles should be checked regularly by a doctor or nurse specialist, especially if they look unusual, grow larger, or change in color, outline, or in any other way.

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Collagen Vascular Disease

  • Lupus is a disorder of the immune system known as an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body harms its own healthy cells and tissues. This leads to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Some of the most common symptoms include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fever, skin rashes, and kidney problems.
  • Scleroderma literally means hard skin. Though it is often referred to as if it were a single disease, scleroderma is really a symptom of a group of diseases that involve the abnormal growth of connective tissue, which supports the skin and internal organs. In some forms of scleroderma, hard, tight skin is the extent of this abnormal process. In other forms, however, the problem goes much deeper, affecting blood vessels and internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

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Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects the skin. It is not contagious; it cannot be passed from one person to another. The word “dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin. “Atopic” refers to a group of diseases where there is often an inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever. In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes extremely itchy. Scratching leads to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” clear fluid, and finally, crusting and scaling. Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as “eczema,” which is a general term for the several types of inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema.

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Fungal Infections

  • Ringworm is a contagious fungus infection that can affect the scalp, the body, the feet (athlete’s foot), or the nails. Ringworm is caused by several different fungus organisms that all belong to a group called “Dermatophytes.” The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person’s skin. People can get ringworm from: direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or pet, indirect contact with an object or surface that an infected person or pet has touched, or rarely, by contact with soil.
  • Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis) also known as tinea pedis, is a common foot infection caused by fungi called dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are especially common in the warm, moist environments of pools, showers, locker rooms and other sports facilities, where athletes (and other active people) walk with bare feet. Once dermatophytes contaminate the skin of someone’s foot, the warm, moist environment of sweaty socks and closed shoes contribute to their growth.
  • Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) is a common fungal infection that affects the groin and inner thighs and often is experienced by athletes. Jock itch can develop when tight garments trap moisture and heat, which creates an environment in which fungi multiply and flourish. It occurs more commonly in men, but can affect women as well. The jock-itch fungus also may cause a rash on the upper and inner thighs, the armpits, the area just underneath the breasts, and the feet (athlete’s foot). Many people with tinea cruris also have athlete’s foot.
  • Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis) A fingernail or toenail infection that is caused by a fungus is called onychomycosis. Toenails are more likely to become infected than fingernails. This infection can make nails thick and discolored and may cause pain in the toes or fingertips.
  • Tinea Versicolor is a common skin condition due to overgrowth of a skin surface yeast that results in uneven skin color (spots) and scaling that can be unsightly and sometimes itch. The yeast normally lives in the pores of the skin and thrives in oily areas such as the neck, upper chest, and back.

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Hair Loss (Alopecia)

  • Alopecia Areata is a highly unpredictable, autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. The disease causes the affected hair follicles to be mistakenly attacked by a person’s own immune system (white blood cells), resulting in the arrest of the hair growth stage. Alopecia areata usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).
  • Hereditary Baldness (Androgenic Alopecia) also known as male pattern baldness, is the most common type of hair loss for men and also occurs in women. It is thought to be hereditary and is also dependent on the extent to which the male hormone testosterone is converted in the scalp to another hormone dihydroxytestosterone. How quickly or slowly baldness develops, and the pattern of hair loss, appear to be genetically determined. Male baldness usually begins with progressive thinning at the hairline, followed by the appearance of a thinned or bald spot on the crown of the head. Women with hereditary baldness experience a general thinning of their hair.

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Herpes & Shingles

  • Genital Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, and is almost always sexually transmitted. The symptoms and severity of outbreaks can vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience severe outbreaks, with very painful burning and sores in the genital area, while others have milder symptoms such as itching and redness during an outbreak, or no symptoms at all. Once infected, the virus enters the body, travels to the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine, and lies dormant (inactive). Once the virus becomes active, it travels along nerve paths back to the surface of the skin, where it may cause an outbreak of sores and blisters.
  • Herpes Simplex Type 1 is a viral infection of the skin that causes cold sores and fever blisters on the lips and around the mouth. The first symptom is itchiness and tingling at the site of the developing infection, usually on the edge of the lips. Blisters soon appear and later burst to become crusted sores. Often accompanied by fever. Tends to clear up in a few days.
  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus. The disease generally affects the elderly, although it occasionally occurs in younger and/or immunodeficient individuals. The first sign is usually a tingling feeling, itchiness, or stabbing pain on the skin. After a few days, a rash appears as a band or patch of raised dots on the side of the trunk or face. The rash develops into small, fluid-filled blisters which begin to dry out and crust over within several days. When the rash is at its peak, symptoms can range from mild itching to extreme and intense pain. Contact with a person with shingles may cause chickenpox (but not shingles) in someone who has never had chickenpox before.

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Insect Bites and Stings

The majority of insect stings in the U.S. come from yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, bees, and fire ants. An allergic reaction to an insect sting can occur immediately, within minutes, or even hours after the sting. Such a reaction is characterized by hives, itchiness, and swelling in areas other than the sting site, difficulty in breathing, dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure, nausea, cramps or diarrhea, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. Tick bites can cause Lyme disease. Usually a flat, reddish rash spreads from the site of the tick bite, and there may be more generalized body symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, fatigue and headache.

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Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is a rare skin disorder that can affect men, women, or children, but is most common in women. It usually occurs on the vulva (the outer genitalia or sex organ) in women, but sometimes develops on the head of the penis in men. Occasionally, lichen sclerosus is seen on other parts of the body, especially the upper body, breasts, and upper arms. It begins as small, subtle white spots and develops into bigger patches with the skin surface becomes thinned and crinkled. Symptoms are most often mild and go away over time.

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Psoriasis is a chronic, genetic, noncontagious skin disorder that appears in many different forms and can affect any part of the body. It is most commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, hands, feet, and genitals. Psoriasis may be one of several types: plaque psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, guttate psoriasis or inverse psoriasis. In its various forms, it may be characterized by itching, swelling, redness, scaly patches, blisters and/or bumps.

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Rosacea is a chronic disease that affects the skin and sometimes the eyes. The disorder is characterized by redness, pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin. Rosacea usually affects the face; other parts of the upper body are only rarely involved.

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Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a disease that causes flaking of the skin. It usually affects the scalp. In adolescents and adults, it is commonly called “dandruff.” In babies, it is known as “cradle cap.” Seborrheic dermatitis can also affect the skin on other parts of the body, such as the face and chest, and the creases of the arms, legs and groin. Seborrheic dermatitis usually causes the skin to look a little greasy and scaly or flaky.

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Skin Infections

  • Warts are a type of infection caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. They can grow on all parts of the body: the skin, the inside of the mouth, the genitals and rectal area. Warts on the skin may be passed to another person when that person touches the warts. It is also possible to get warts from using towels or other objects that were used by a person who has warts. Warts can easily be treated and removed.
  • Molluscum Contagiosum is a skin disease caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) usually causing one or more small lesions/bumps. MCV is generally a benign infection and symptoms may self-resolve. MCV was once a disease primarily of children, but it has evolved to become a sexually transmitted disease in adults. It is believed to be a member of the pox virus family.

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Skin Cancer

  • Melanoma is one of the most serious types of skin cancer because advanced melanomas have the ability to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma begins when melanocytes (pigment cells) gradually become more abnormal and divide without control or order. These cells can invade and destroy the normal cells around them. The abnormal cells form a growth of malignant tissue (a cancerous tumor) on the surface of the skin. Melanoma can begin either in an existing mole or as a new growth on the skin.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and of all cancers. One out of every three new cancers is a skin cancer, and the vast majority are basal cell carcinomas. This skin cancer usually appears as a small, fleshy bump or nodule, most often on the head, neck, and hands. These cancers arise in the basal cells, which are at the bottom of the epidermis (outer skin layer). They usually do not spread to distant parts of the body (metastasize). The only way to tell for sure if a skin growth is cancerous is to biopsy it. If basal cell carcinoma is discovered, it must be removed by surgery; often the cancer is spread beneath the skin. Chronic exposure to sunlight is the cause of almost all basal cell carcinomas.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma. It arises from the epidermis and resembles the squamous cells that comprise most of the upper layers of skin. Squamous cell cancers may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes, but are most common in areas exposed to the sun. Although squamous cell carcinomas usually remain confined to the epidermis for some time, they eventually penetrate the underlying tissues if not treated. In a small percentage of cases, they spread (metastasize) to distant tissues and organs. When this happens, they can be fatal. Chronic exposure to sunlight causes most cases of squamous cell carcinoma.

Varicose & Spider Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, painful superficial veins resulting from poorly functioning valves. Blood remains in the vein and pooling of blood causes the vein to enlarge. This process usually occurs in the veins of the legs, although it may occur elsewhere. Varicose veins are common, affecting mostly women. Causes include congenitally defective valves, thrombophlebitis, and pregnancy. Prolonged standing and increased pressure within the abdomen may increase susceptibility to the development of varicose veins or aggravate the condition.

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Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which the pigment cells (melanocytes) in the skin, the mucous membranes, and the retina are destroyed. As a result, white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The hair that grows in areas affected by vitiligo usually turns white. The cause of vitiligo is not known.

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Aging Skin Care Treatment


Improve the appearance of your skin with Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment for many visible flaws, including redness of the face and neck, rosacea, sun/age spots, broken blood vessels, spider veins on legs and some freckles. You want to look and feel your best, and you want the confidence of knowing that you are getting the highest quality care and treatment. Our Pulsed Dye Laser delivers an intense but gentle burst of light into selectively targeted areas of the skin. The light is absorbed by specific blood vessels or melanin-pigmented areas in the dermis. Patients of this treatment will notice beneficial and long-lasting results. This treatment is safe, comfortable, and most importantly, effective.


Laser Vein Therapy

Spider veins and other small veins on the face can be treated with laser therapy. The heat from the laser damages the vein and it eventually disappears. Multiple treatments may be required.

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Charlottesville Dermatology complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex.