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5 Most Frequently Asked Questions of a Dermatologist

What’s your skin care secret?

This would have to be one of the most common questions asked of a dermatologist. The answer is simple – sun protection.

Why? Well, sun damage is responsible for over 80% of the signs associated with aging. Wrinkles, sagging skin, redness, patchy pigmentation, yellowing and coarsening of the skin. Sun protection is the essential part of a dermatologist’s skin care routine.


If I’m not getting sunburn, do I need sunscreen?

Yes. Studies show that even when sunlight is not strong enough to cause sunburn, it is can still cause permanent skin damage. This can quicken the signs of aging mentioned above. Hats, clothing and a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVA, UVB and infrared are year round essentials.


Does my moisturiser slow the signs of aging?

No. Moisturisers stop water evaporating from the skin and relieve dryness. They help to protect the skin from irritation. Well-hydrated skin looks more radiant and fresh and small lines may look less visible. A moisturiser is not an ‘anti-aging’ miracle.

What moisturiser you use should be determined by the way if feels on your skin. If it’s too greasy, it may sit on the surface and get wiped off from clothing. If it’s too watery, the hydrating effect may be so short-lived that you feel as though you need to use more a few minutes later. Ideally your moisturiser should be absorbed into the skin, making it feel soft and fresh.

The cost of the moisturiser is not a reflection of quality. Neutrogena, Ego Pharmaceuticals and Nivea are just three companies that have been making relatively inexpensive quality moisturisers for decades and they have lasted in a highly competitive market.


I thought my moisturiser has SPF?

When moisturisers include sunscreen, the sun protection is short-lived. Real sunscreens have to state how long their protection lasts and whether it will be affected by water or sweating. If you want to get serious about skin care, stock up on a dedicated sunscreen.


What’s new in skin care?

We are starting to understand how sunlight damages skin cells, skin cancer and ageing. Anti-oxidants can help to minimise damage and help the repair process. Retinoic acid (derived from vitamin A) is a powerful antioxidant that is effective in cream form. While Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant, it is unstable in creams and when exposed to air.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) can help skin repair and reduce the uneven pigmentation of facial skin.
The pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies are aware of the research and are incorporating anti-oxidants and niacinamide into sunscreens and cosmetics. But more on this next time…


Have your own question for Jill? Leave a comment.

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What Make-Up do Dermatologists Recommend?

Our Dermatologists recommend a 100% mineral makeup for those seeking a lighter coverage. Different products are available for those who are being treated for acne scaring and other conditions where a heavier coverage is preferable. (eg. Derma Blend)

How is mineral foundation different?

Mineral foundation is marketed as a more natural alternative to other foundations, such as liquids and pressed powders. The biggest difference is that it usually contains finely crushed, naturally occurring minerals, and most come in loose powder form to be applied using a special brush.

But is it really natural?

Even though it’s claimed mineral foundation has many good qualities, including being great for improving acne, moisturising skin and not clogging pores, it doesn’t actually have any therapeutic effect. It does, however, provide some sun protection which is beneficial for skin. (Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide are key ingredients in sunscreen).

Dermatologists recommend 100% Mineral makeup however most of the mineral ingredients naturally contain traces of toxic impurities and require processing to remove them. As ingredients undergo chemical processes and purification to render them safe for cosmetic use, it does make them less “natural”.

There are no regulations that define mineral make-up. Currently, any product can be labeled mineral make-up if it contains any mineral as a primary ingredient, even if it contains a whole host of synthetic ingredients as well.

Generally, most mineral foundations contain the same core ingredients:

  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Iron Oxides

Some will contain bismuth oxychloride and talc as well.

It’s a personal choice

For consumers who wish to avoid all these added extras, it is important to check the ingredients on the package. Look for a product with as few ingredients as possible, a product that’s fragrance-free, and doesn’t contain parabens or other preservatives, and doesn’t include bismuth oxychloride.

Sometimes it’s a case of trial and error to see what looks best on your complexion. People with oily skin may find that the mineral powders darken in patches on their skin, while other people find it quite drying. As a general rule, these products will have fillers such Talc included as an ingredient. If you have problem skin Dermatologists recommed mineral foundations to people with skin conditions such as rosacea, acne and eczema as they contain only a handful of ingredients, as well as being fragrance- and preservative-free – are likely to be less irritating.

However, using mineral foundation isn’t a guarantee your skin won’t be irritated. The usual irritants in most foundations are fillers, parabens and fragrance. Most mineral foundations are preservative- and/or fragrance-free, but many still contain allergenic fillers such as bismuth oxychloride.

Bismuth oxychloride is a very common and popular ingredient in cosmetics. It’s used to add bulk as well as giving a visible sheen that camouflages lines, wrinkles and minor discolorations. It also gives the product a silky, luxurious feel. On the downside, it’s a totally synthetic ingredient, a by-product of lead, tin and copper refining, which is further refined and combined with water and chloride.

If you have sensitive skin, look for a mineral make-up that doesn’t contain fragrance, preservatives, or bismuth oxychloride.

Types of Skin Cancer


Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer – it can spread very quickly and once it penetrates below the surface of the skin it can become deadly. Survival rate is largely dependent on the thickness (depth) of melanoma. A person with a melanoma of less than 0.75mm thick can expect to have 95% cure rate. If left until greater than 4mm thick, cure rate is less than 55%, which is why it is so important to detect melanoma early.

Continue reading “Types of Skin Cancer”

1 Minute on Skin Cancers

Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged. Most often caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Every year in Australia:

  • 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers are skin.
  • Over 95% of skin cancers are caused by the sun.
  • GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
  • Australia’s rate of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world. Double the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.

There are three main types of skin cancer – melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. If detected early, skin cancer is almost 100% treatable. If left untreated, skin cancer can spread and become life threatening.

Treating Skin Cancer

Treatment for skin cancer will depend on a number of factors:

  • Type of skin cancer
  • Size
  • Location of the skin cancer
  • Whether the skin cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.

Treatment options can include:


Surgical removal of the tumour and surrounding tissue.


Scraping and burning.


Freezing with liquid nitrogen.


Using high energy rays such as X-rays to destroy cancer cells within a specific area.


Highly specialised surgery where the cancer (generally non melanoma skin cancer only) is removed little by little and checked under the microscope immediately.

Photodynamic Therapy

Using a light source and special cream to destroy cancer cells.


A cream that destroys skin cancer by stimulating the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. Imiquimod is in a class of medications called immune response modifiers.


Treatment with drugs, either pills or injections. It may be used to treat melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body.


After treatment you may need regular check-ups with your GP or specialist for early detection of any new skin cancers. If you notice any spots you are worried about between follow-up appointments, it’s important to speak with your GP or specialist as soon as possible.

It is very important to protect your skin. Wear SPF30+ sunscreen (at least) with UVA and UVB filters, hat and appropriate clothing when in the sun.


Moles: When to See the Doctor

When noticing a new mole, a simple check can help you figure out if it’s worth a visit to the dermatologist. Of course, the two rules below are just guides and moles should be checked by a doctor if they are unusual in anyway.

The ABCD Rule

Melanoma can have any of the following symptoms.


The shape of one half does not match the other.


The edges are often ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline; the pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.


Colour is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue also may be seen.


Size changes and usually increases. Typically, melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter (the diameter of a pencil).

EFG Rule

There is a class of rapidly growing, nodular melanoma, which represent about 20% of all cases. This type of melanoma doesn’t subscribe to the traditional ABCD rule. This means it can often go undetected. Fortunately, they can be identified early using the E.F.G. rule.


Nodular melanoma usually have all three of the below criteria:




The moles don’t need to be dark or have any other colour to them, but the key is that they’re raised, firm, often symmetrical and most importantly changing/growing progressively. In the early stages, this might not be visible – it may just be itchy, or just feels funny. This type of melanoma can affect anyone but most commonly found on men over 50. Nodular melanoma grows fast and can go deep very quickly (within a few months). This is why they’re so dangerous and need early diagnosis and removal.


Melanoma does not always fit the ABCD orEFG rules. If you notice a lesion that is:

  • Different from others
  • Changing in shape, size or colour
  • New
  • Itches
  • Bleeds

Give us at Malvern Dermatology Clinic a call or email.



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