Dermatology in the Time of Covid 19
Although acne is still the most popular complaint regarding the skin, dermatology in a pandemic has its own set of challenges.
According to Merriam-Webster online, the first known use of “dermatology” was in 1819. What a difference two centuries has made as this branch of medicine concerned with the skin, its structure and function, and various diseases has shot to the forefront of research and development. Today, there are almost a dozen dermatology clinics in the Pikes Peak Region.
Dr. Vinh Chung is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at Vanguard Skin Specialists. Born in Vietnam not long after the fall of Saigon, Dr. Chung and his family left Vietnam as refugees fleeing Communist oppression. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer and believes that “we have experienced more physician burnout during the coronavirus pandemic, where we are forced to take care of these patients and not our skincare patients as this may not be considered critical.”
Vanguard made the decision early on not to shut down and to be available to patients via videoconferencing and strict social distancing. “From the perspective of more topical skin conditions,” he says, “we have also seen many more rashes on the skin caused by the ongoing wearing of masks. But, more importantly, I also fear that some of our new and existing patients may not be getting the treatment they need due to a fear of coming into our office.”
Colorado Springs Dermatology Clinic, with a presence in Colorado Springs since 1972, is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility with a stated mission to “provide superior professional skin care in a compassionate and patient-friendly environment.” Dr. Nate S. Trookman is board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the National Board of Medical Examiners and has been a mainstay at the clinic for almost 25 years.
“We have seen the changes in both the city and science of dermatology over the decades,” Trookman says. “On the COVID side, we are all practicing social distancing with fewer patients in the lobby, and our practice saw 2,000 patients through telemedicine in April.”
He adds, “The patients who came into the office then were more willing to take a risk, but now we are starting to see an unbelievable number of sick people with bad rashes and very bad, bleeding skin cancers, who should have come into the office earlier. This is due to delayed diagnosis, and the message is now that it is safe to have in-office skincare treatment. We have also noticed a huge amount of para-oral dermatitis and acne, especially with our staff who wear masks all day long. Another condition is cartilage irritation along the ears, especially in older patients who may be wearing hearing aids and glasses.”
Dr. Reagan Anderson, president of the American Osteopathic Society of America, is with the Colorado Dermatology Institute and specializes in general dermatology and in Mohs micrographic surgery for the treatment of skin cancer. Anderson also grew up in Colorado Springs and attended Rampart High School. He has an interesting take on what is happening in the medical community today.
“The fear of COVID is playing out with people delaying getting treatment for skin cancers and other serious problems,” he says. “As far as topical skin problems, we are seeing more irritation from wearing masks, including rosacea, which is a reddening of the face, and dermatitis, which is like dandruff on the face. I recommend washing with a gentle cleanser as now is not the time to exfoliate with an abrasive scrub. People should also avoid getting sunburn as so many of us are now getting outdoors.”
Although their practices are located all across the Front Range, all three of these top docs offer high-quality dermatological care, continuing to innovate and provide the best treatment plans for their patients.