Ask the Doctor

Dr. Mahoney

Medical Questions

Is the SPF on sunscreens important?

SPF or Sun Protection Factor is a measurement of the minimal amount of time it takes for you to sunburn. So if you would get sunburned after 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, then a SPF 15 product would provide 15 times that amount of time or roughly 5 hrs of protection. So the higher the SPF number, the greater the amount of sun protection for both long and short periods of sun exposure. SPF 15 is good for daily use, but SPF 30 or higher should be used when longer/more intense exposure is expected.

My child has Molluscum contagiosum – where did he get it and should I treat it?

Your child got Molluscum from someone else probably a classmate or playmate. This virus is spread from human to human usually skin to skin and is VERY contagious. You should definitely treat is ASAP before 1 or 2 lesions become 50 lesions. We frequently treat children who wait and the resolution of the virus is much more difficult and uncomfortable.

I went to a nail salon and I think that I have a fungus. What should I do?

Women frequently get onychomycosis or nail fungus after nail salon treatments. We recommend that patients purchase their own nail trimming kit and bring it to the salon. This will insure that no one else has used or contaminated the equipment. To clear the nail infection can often require both oral and topical medications.

I’d like to get my baby’s ears pierced. Do you do that and is it painful?

We frequently pierce ears in our office and we use a strong topical numbing agent to make the experience as painfree as possible. Some babies sleep right through the procedure. We also use prepackaged, non-reusable, gold plated nickel free studs to prevent developing allergies and transmitting diseases.

Cosmetic Questions

What is the difference between products you sell and over-the-counter products at department stores or spas?

Products sold by physicians, by law, can be higher in concentration of active ingredients. Many studies on Retinoic acids, Alpha hydroxyl acids and Vitamin C/Ascorbic acids have shown that to have the rejuvenating or collagen producing effects, these products need to be in the appropriate concentrations. Over-the-counter medications, by law, can not provide these higher necessary levels of acid and thus will not deliver the appropriate anti-aging results. In our office, these products are matched to your particular skin type and are often paired with prescription medications to provide maximal skin rejuvenating effects.

I tried Retin A in the past but my skin got too irritated and dry. What should I do?

Retin A or Tretinoin is a Vitamin A or retinoic acid. Due to its clinical structure and pH, Retin A often has dryness and irritation as a side effect even if it is mixed with a moisturizer. Some patients can not tolerate it even at its lowest concentration. For patients sensitive to Retinoic acid, we frequently use Retrinol 0.1% gel which is the aldehyde or less acidic form of Vitamin A. The higher pH makes Retrinol tolerable to most skin types. Other options include AHA/glycolic products or Vitamin C products which are often more moisturizing so more compatible with all skin types.

Are tanning booths safe?

The answer is No. Tanning booths do NOT provide a safer tan. Radiation is radiation whether you get it from a box or from the sun. Numerous medical studies have shown that prolonged exposure to radiation dramatically increases your risk of malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers. I have seen many patients in their 20s getting skin cancers because of frequent tanning in tanning booths. The American Academy of Dermatology has for years warned of the dangers of tanning booths and pushed for stiffer regulation of the tanning industry – especially with children.