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Halloween Scary Skin Stories

At Halloween, some of the most frightening costumes include skin concerns that dermatologists deal with every day. From witches’ warts to shocking scars and blistering boils, the scary skin issues you see on Halloween are typically all in good fun. 

More terrifying to dermatologists are potentially dangerous skincare mistakes we see our patients making. Here are some of the most spine-chilling…

Getting your moles “Burned off”

Do not laser off your moles or beauty spots

Please do not allow medically-untrained aestheticians treat your moles! Removal of moles without first getting a proper diagnosis using a dermatoscope could prove life-threatening. I have treated cases of patients where a ‘beauty spot’ or ‘pimple’ was lasered off at a medi-spa only to be skin cancer. In the worst-case scenario, this ‘beauty spot’ might have been a melanoma.

What happens is that when a melanoma is incompletely removed, the remaining atypical cells can continue to divide below the skin and spread to lymph nodes before showing up on the skin as an atypical pigmented spot again at which stage the melanoma is more advanced.

Rather get cosmetically bothersome marks checked out by your derm first to see whether it can be safely removed. As a rule, even benign-appearing moles get sent away for pathology testing – safety first!

Using Melanotan ‘tanning injections’ or nasal spray to get a sunless tan

Honey vs Maple Syrup

Melanotan II is an unlicensed and largely untested form of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which causes pigmentation (tanning) of human skin. Melanotan II is a variant of Melanotan I (afamelanotide), a drug used in the treatment of erythropoietic protoporphyria.

Melanotan II has been reported to cause a wide range of potentially serious side effects. Warnings against its use have been issued from the US, UK and several other countries as well as by CANSA here in SA and yet I still see patients getting hold of it. In fact, perhaps most terrifying of all – it’s readily and easily available online. 

Because Melanotan stimulates the melanocytes (the cells making up our moles), the big concern is that long term, it may increase the risk of melanoma. It also makes it really difficult for your dermatologist to monitor your moles while you are using it because it causes all your moles to go very dark and look atypical. Other side effects include dangerous breakdown of your muscle cells (rhabdomyolysis) as well as encephalopathy. Please steer clear of it – honestly it’s not worth it! If you want to read more around the danger of sunless tanning, read this article by CANSA here

Letting inexperienced aesthetic practitioners inject into ‘danger zones’

Please don’t fall into the trap of trusting your face with someone because they are more affordable! A complete understanding of the anatomical locations of blood vessels, as well as how facial ageing or previous facial surgeries may change their structural orientation, is imperative in identifying critical “danger zones” to avoid when injecting dermal fillers. 

If the person administering fillers is untrained and not careful, there’s risk of damage, infection or injecting filler into arteries and blocking them – leading to tissue death, scarring or even vision loss. This is why it’s so important to see a registered medical professional who understands the anatomy of the face, knows the areas to avoid and if necessary can respond appropriately should these rare and potentially devastating complications occur.

Having Botox parties

If the thought of being able to sip cocktails with friends and getting your Botox done too sounds like a win-win then listen up! Please remember that aesthetic treatments are medical procedures: not something to be included with your blowdry or mani/pedi at a pamper party! It needs to be done in a sterile environment preferably in a medical practice and there certainly should not be any drinking involved: in fact – alcohol interferes with blood clotting so at the very least you’re asking for more bruising!

Having deep resurfacing treatments with an active cold sore

The most common infection post-laser resurfacing is a flare-up of the herpes virus which causes cold sores. Laser resurfacing has been shown to cause recurrences in 2.2% of patients and so all of our laser resurfacing patients receive anti-viral medication (and antibiotics) before their treatments to reduce this risk. This is important because a herpes outbreak on a newly lasered face (i.e. with a very compromised skin barrier) can cause permanent scarring. Not the look we are going for!

So if you have a cold sore that pops up a day or so before your treatment, please reschedule! 

Having fillers when you have a sinus infection or have had dental procedures in the past two weeks

Having fillers with an active infection is a no-go. I understand the temptation of still going to an appointment which has been booked with much excited anticipation months previously but trust me – it’s not worth it! 

Why? Because even a low grade infection can contaminate your fillers resulting in biofilms which can become an absolute nightmare down the line. Bacteria present in these biofilms can remain dormant for a long time and emerge from their biofilm following activation by a trigger like dentistry work, leading to inflammation, granulomas, or abscesses. You will develop tender nodules under the skin which can persist for months and cause great anxiety.

Not following post care instructions after a procedure or treatment

We want you to have the best result possible! Unnecessary pain and complications like infection will be minimized if your after-care instructions are followed carefully. Common sense will often dictate what you should or shouldn’t do after a procedure or treatment but if you have any questions, please contact us to clarify. Following an excision, our scar is our signature so we’re never happy if you go surfing and end up tearing your sutures open. We’re also not happy if you go to the beach after you’ve had laser treatments and end up causing pigmentation. Our after-care instructions are there to make sure that you have the best aesthetic outcome possible.

At TASH 360, we believe in personalized care. Whatever skin issues you’re struggling with, there’s no need to fear! Getting started with keeping your skin looking and feeling great isn’t scary at all! Our skilled team at TASH360 can help you repair damage, prevent serious concerns, and reach your skin goals. And if your wart, scar, bump, or spider bite isn’t a part of your Halloween costume, we’re here to help too 😊 

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