Dermatology in Cornwall | Duchy Hospital

Dermatology Treatments

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy treatment freezes skin lesions to remove them. We use liquid nitrogen, the most common type of cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy removes: actinic keratosis (sun-damaged skin area), viral warts, seborrhoeic keratoses (noncancerous, often pigmented, growth on the skin), Bowen’s disease and other benign lesions. It’s also used to treat malignant lesions.

Performed as an outpatient procedure, liquid nitrogen is applied to your skin using a cryoprobe, cotton-tipped applicator or cryospray.

Excision of skin lesions (punch biopsy and curettage)

The excision of a skin lesion is minor surgery. A skin lesion may be removed if it’s causing significant problems or if it could be cancerous. Duchy Hospital will also remove a skin lesion if it’s aesthetically bothering you. This is not available on the NHS.

Skin lesions can be removed by a number of ways, dependent upon its type and where it is located. We usually carry out a punch biopsy and curettage of skin lesions.

  • Punch biopsy

A special circular blade punches a small hole in your skin and removes a cylindrical section of the skin lesion under local anaesthetic. The biopsy sample is then sent to the laboratory for further testing.

  • Curettage of a skin lesion

A curette is used to scoop away your lesion. It’s usually used on epidermal superficial skin lesions. Curettage can be combined with cryotherapy (freezing) or cautery (heat treatment).

Steroid cream (topical corticosteroids)

Steroid creams are a common treatment for many dermatological conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. They contain hormones called corticosteroids that reduce inflammation and irritation.  

Topical cortisteroids differ in potency and their formulation and can be creams, gels, lotions, mousses and ointments.

Typically, they only need to be used once or twice a day for a few days or weeks at a time and should only be applied directly to the affected areas of skin.

Acne treatment with Isotretinoin (Roaccutane)

If you’ve acne you may be suffering from reduced self-esteem and quality of life. Severe acne can be very painful and difficult to treat. At Duchy Hospital we can offer patients with chronic acne a very effective prescription medicine called Isotretinoin. It treats: excess oil production, clogged skin pores, large amounts of the bacteria P. acnes and, inflammation.

Isotretinoin is a strong drug, dispensed in pill format and only by a dermatologist. Treatment normally involves taking one or two pills a day for four to five months.

Mycology – fungal toes/hands

Mycology is the study of fungi that’s used to diagnose fungal infections. It involves taking tissue samples from a patient’s nail, skin and hair as fungi grows in these. They may be gained by scraping skin, taking hair samples with root intact, a biopsy or using tape to strip the skin. The samples are then sent for microscopic examination and culture. Once the fungal infection is identified an appropriate antifungal treatment can be provided.

Athlete’s foot and nail infections are common hand and toe fungal problems. Athletes foot usually affects the gaps between the toes. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, flaky and cracking skin. It can normally be treated effectively with an anti-fungal cream.

Nail infections often start at the end of your nail and slowly spread down to the base. Your nail may discolour, become thick and crumbly. You may find it painful to wear shoes. It often affects toenails more than fingernails. Athlete’s foot can spread to your nails and cause a nail infection. Nail infections can also be caused by a weak, injured nail. Treatment may involve antifungal tablets, nail paints or nail softening paste.

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