The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects our internal organs, shields us from environmental contaminants, and quite literally holds us together. Nevertheless, skin health is something that far too many of us take for granted — that is, until trouble arises.
Guest post by Katie Brenneman
The reality is that skin health is something that must be protected and preserved because the costs of not paying sufficient attention to your skin may be dire. Skin cancer, for example, is among the most commonly occurring forms of cancer worldwide. It is estimated that one in five persons in the United States alone will develop some type of skin cancer by the age of 70. It is also estimated that in the U.S., one life is lost to skin cancer every two minutes.
The battle for skin health seems to be a long and arduous one indeed. The good news, however, is that healthcare providers and skin care specialists alike now have more weapons than ever before to aid them in their fight against dermatological disorders.
Technological innovations in dermatology are helping both to save lives and to improve patients’ quality of life. This article explores how tech is revolutionizing the field of dermatology.
Innovations in Teledermatology
When it comes to skin health, there is perhaps nothing more important than consistent monitoring. However, preventative screenings in a dermatologist’s office can be inconvenient or even unfeasible, particularly for immunocompromised persons who may be averse to being seen in person in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
Ultimately, though, dermatological disorders wait for no one, and delaying screenings, no matter how legitimate or reasonable the reason, can put your life at risk. Fortunately, thanks to the advent of telehealth technologies, you no longer have to go to a physical doctor’s office for access to consistent, high-quality healthcare.
You can securely connect with a licensed, board-certified dermatologist offering telemedicine consultations. Through video conferencing, your doctor can evaluate any areas of concern, assess your overall skin health, and monitor your skin for any clinically significant changes, such as new growths or concerning changes in moles or birthmarks.
In addition to teledermatology, you can also unleash the power of technology to monitor your skin health. For example, a number of apps are available at low or no cost to help you detect changes in your skin’s appearance that may indicate early-stage cancer.
These apps can even archive your electronic “body maps” to help you and your healthcare provider evaluate the type and rate of change in a suspicious mole or growth.
Varicose Vein Treatment Technology
As frightening as skin malignancies such as melanoma may be, these are not the only serious and potentially life-threatening disorders that tech innovations are helping to mitigate.
Venous disorders can have a serious impact on the appearance of the skin. Spider veins, though common and, at times, unsightly, rarely pose a significant non-cosmetic health impact. On the other hand, varicose veins not only compromise skin appearance, but can also cause significant pain and loss of function. In severe cases, varicose veins may even contribute to the formation of potentially lethal blood clots.
Traditionally, treatment options have been quite limited and relatively ineffective, often involving the stripping or removing the varicose vein. Today, however, new technologies are making treating varicose veins more effective, affordable, and significantly more comfortable.
For example, new radiofrequency technologies (RF) are now being used to treat damaged blood vessels through low-temperature energy pulses. The procedure can be performed without
surgery and requires minimal recovery time. In addition, the relatively low cost of the technology makes treatment far more accessible to markets worldwide, including in developing nations where the need is great, but access to surgical care is often impossible.
Tech Innovations in Skin Care
As critical as it is to remain vigilant in regard to the early detection and effective treatment of serious disorders, from skin cancer to varicose veins, this is far from the only arena in which tech innovations are making a substantial contribution to skin health.
Dermatological research is making groundbreaking discoveries in an effort to nourish and care for the skin. This includes the development of highly effective serums, exfoliants, cleansers, and moisturizers derived from state-of-the-art technologies rooted in advanced dermatological science.
In addition to innovative skin care products, there are now many skin care tools that can enhance the effectiveness of your skin care routine. Some products utilize electric currents to gently shock facial muscles to improve and strengthen the facial structure, while others are simpler and help gently massage the face. Incorporating these tools into your skin care routine is a great way to boost the efficacy of the products you use.
Perhaps most important of all, a variety of tools are now readily available to protect the skin from what is, perhaps, its greatest threat and foe: sun damage. For instance, advancements in textile technologies have led to the development of specialized synthetic fabrics designed specifically for the purpose of blocking ultraviolet rays (UV). These innovations are being used for everything from sunshades and awnings to sun protective hats and clothing.
The Rise of Nanotechnology in Dermatology
If you want to find the future of dermatology, you perhaps need to look no further than the domain of nanoscience. Nanodermatology is emerging as an exciting and highly promising sub-specialty of dermatology.
Nanocosmeceuticals, for instance, have emerged to combine the cosmetic and the therapeutic through the use of nanoparticles. This includes the infusion of “therapeutic” nanoparticles in cosmetics and skin care products to address common dermatological concerns, such as skin dryness, sagging, discoloration, and wrinkling.
Nanoparticles are also increasingly being used in the treatment of skin disease, typically in the form of topical pharmaceutical creams and ointments. Indeed, nanotechnology in topical therapeutics is showing tremendous promise in the treatment of some forms of treatment-resistant skin cancer when combined with photodynamic therapy.
Likewise, nanoparticles are also being used with impressive results to facilitate wound healing. For persons with burn injury, paralysis, or other conditions contributing to skin ulceration, nanotherapeutics may not only decrease pain and enhance the quality of life but may also help prevent potentially life-threatening skin infections.
Wearable technologies have become commonplace in our tech-driven world. From fitness trackers to secure mobile health devices, we have unleashed the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to maintain nearly constant surveillance of our health status and behaviours.
For instance, wearable health sensors can help persons with skin disorders monitor their activities and environment, helping them avoid activities that can exacerbate their condition.
Similarly, we have the use of AI-driven machine learning to deploy Big Data, devising highly personalized, evidence-based treatment protocols. For dermatological patients, the end result of these tech innovations is often a more rapid and accurate diagnosis and a more effective personalized care regimen.
Skin health doesn’t just contribute to the length of life, it also determines one’s overall quality of life. Indeed, disorders and diseases of the skin can cause significant pain and debility. Many, such as malignant melanoma, are life-threatening. However, innovations in technology are equipping healthcare providers and patients alike with more accessible and powerful tools than ever to support skin health. This includes the emergence of AI and the IoT to optimize dermatological diagnosis and treatment, the advent of telehealth to ensure consistency and quality in dermatological care, the rise of nanoscience to facilitate skin care and disease treatment, and the proliferation of state-of-the-art synthetic fabrics to revolutionize sun protection.