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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2017
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More than doctors — Forefront Dermatology connects to patients through parenthood

Parenthood is a community, a tribe that unites its members like no other. Having children and all associated with it — the stresses, the joys and even the fears — connect mothers and fathers with their peers in a way that’s natural and often unspoken. What is clear, though, is the kind of reassurance often felt when one interacts with a fellow parent who has also experienced a particular issue or has had a similar concern regarding their children’s well-being.

It’s no different with doctors. The board-certified dermatologists of Forefront Dermatology are held in high esteem in their industry in every aspect of their careers; however, they’re humans too. Several are parents, and that means they too have had questions about their children’s health and safety.

They understand.

Empathizing with patients as parents

Forefront Dermatology currently has 36 locations throughout Wisconsin where they expertly address a wide spectrum of conditions and concerns, including acne, eczema, rashes, warts, psoriasis and rosacea, along with cosmetic treatments.

They’ve also become an industry expert on treating basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and less common skin cancers through a highly specialized procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery. The level of medical care and technique is unmatched, and it’s also complemented by their dedication to providing patients with compassionate care, education and personalized treatments throughout a patient’s journey.

With this awareness in mind, it can be easy to categorize your Forefront dermatologist as simply a medical figure. We forget that they’re community members, neighbors, pet owners and parents. They’re just like us!

Dr. Peter Katz and his wife, Murissa, have three children: William (12), Dane (10) and Livian (8). And as any parent can attest, their children differ in personality and development. What Dr. Katz recognizes as both a board-certified dermatologist and a father is that their skin is vastly diverse as well.

“Dane has had the most skin issues,” he explains. “He was born with a rare congenital skin tumor called mastocytoma… he has eczema and has had a lot of medication reactions. He’s also had scarlet fever three times — he’s kept me on my toes! And when I do see patients with the same issues, I can give them some idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis and not just what’s in the textbook.”

Dr. Susan Keiler and her husband, David Johnson, parents of 11-week-old daughter, Kathleen, know that skin care and its significance are already prominent even at this early stage of parenthood, bringing with it an overall cognizance of what might be going through her fellow parent patients’ minds.

“Kathleen has already had a few skin issues arise since she has been born,” Dr. Keiler says. “As a pediatric dermatologist, I felt added pressure to get her diaper rash and acne under control quickly. In this short time, I have realized it can be very hard to be patient when you are treating your own child. You (and family members) want them to get better overnight but that is sometimes not realistic.”

Dr. Christopher Burnett and his wife, Mary, are the parents of three daughters: Sophia (7), Clara (4) and Lillian (10 months). Dr. Burnett identifies that being prepared with a plan and providing a strategy can go a long way with children and their parents when it comes to providing the highest level of care.

“A treatment plan and oftentimes simple reassurance can make a big difference in your child’s skin health,” Dr. Burnett says. “Don’t hesitate to seek an evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist for any skin concerns in your child.”

Sometimes the uncertainties can feel overwhelming, and Drs. Katz, Keiler and Burnett recognize that in this day and age the internet and “what ifs” don’t help alleviate those anxieties. It’s perfectly normal to worry — they do it too.

“A lot of the time I see parents come in and they go to the worst case scenario right away,” Dr. Katz says. “And we understand that. As a parent and a doctor, I find myself doing that same thing. But we also have a base of knowledge to know if something is very rare or how likely or unlikely those things are.”

Creating a partnership in your child’s skin health journey

Consistency is key.

It’s a phrase we’ve heard time and time again, and applies to almost every facet of life. If you want to make something a habit, you must be constant in your approach. When it comes to sun protection, the dermatologists at Forefront Dermatology believe nothing is truer or more significant in terms of long-term well-being — and that begins in infancy.

While outside with your newborn, Dr. Keiler recommends protective hats and tight woven clothing, and limited sun exposure during peak intensity hours (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). For infants older than 6 months, she urges regular use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30, containing the ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which are less irritating to the skin.

“Sun avoidance alone is advised in infants younger than 6 months of age due to the greater risk of absorption of the chemicals in sunscreen and lack of safety testing of sunscreens in this age group,” she says. “(At a young age) the best thing you can do for your child’s skin health is to practice very good sun protection. It is important to use sun protective clothing starting at birth (surf guards, hats) and use sunscreen. Glitter sunscreen — sold at our Manitowoc and Sheboygan Falls offices — can make putting on sunscreen fun for children age 2-10.”

“My biggest advice is teaching kids to make protecting yourself from the sun a way of life, a routine,” Dr. Katz says. “Don’t make it a once in a while thing. My kids know that before they go outside to go swimming, they need their sunscreen and swim shirt on. It’s engrained in their heads and it’s just what they do.”

“My four-year old knows the importance of using sunscreen to prevent sunburn,” Dr. Burnett adds. “We’ve been able to educate my seven-year old on the importance of using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. We hope that the habits we are encouraging now will result in lifelong sun safety practices.”

As children grow and evolve, so does their skin and the potential for hormones and aging to bring conditions like acne.

Whether it’s discomfort that is often associated with acne in young adults, or perhaps an unfamiliarity with how a particular skin type or condition looks, children being exposed to differences requires support. The dermatologists at Forefront Dermatology are the ideal team to help maintain your child’s skin health, and also encourage you to get involved to partner in the effort — both from an emotional and dermatologic standpoint.

“As a pediatric dermatologist, I recommend parents talk to their children early about their birthmark or skin condition and not discuss it in a negative way,” Dr. Keiler says. “I have parents refer to birthmarks as beauty marks. Usually young children (4-6 years of age) are more curious as they start seeing differences between their skin and the skin of their peers.

“There is also a summer camp for children who are struggling socially with their skin condition (Camp Discovery and Camp Horizon). These camps allow children to interact with other children with similar conditions in a nonthreatening safe environment.”

“Skin issues can be difficult socially, especially in the case of common conditions like acne and eczema,” Dr. Burnett explains. “It’s important for parents and kids to know that help is available in the form of a good, personalized treatment plan.”

Strategies for parents to help their children stay consistent in their skin health routines include keeping the ointment or cream on your child’s nightstand or moisturizer near their towels in the bathroom. That way, the dermatologists say, a conscious decision to not use the products has to be made rather than to use the excuse that it was forgotten.

Text reminders and alerts on phones are another measure they suggest to ensure children stay consistent whether taking medication or applying topical treatments.

“It’s also important to drive home the point that a lot of treatments we give for a lot of conditions are not for the acne you have now, for example, but it’s to be used steadily for weeks,” Dr. Katz explains. “Your consistency now is going to pay off later.” 

“Kids don’t understand that what they’re doing now makes a difference down the road,” Dr. Katz says. “They’ll feel a sunburn but then five days later forget about it. They don’t realize that it leads to skin cancer and other problems.”

For more information about Forefront Dermatology and to find a location near you, visit or call 855-535-7175.

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