Articles by Savola Aesthetic Dermatology Center

Dealing with Bugs that Bite – Ticks


Along with the many pleasures of being outdoors in the summer, unfortunately we must also contend with a few downsides, like bugs that bite. In Act 1 of my medical career I was a specialist in infectious diseases. Tick-borne illnesses are at the intersection of infectious diseases and dermatology. As in most of the country, tick-borne illnesses are on the rise. According to the CDC, the number of people affected by tick-borne illnesses has tripled since 1990. Even if we are not walking barefoot in a field, a tick occasionally sneaks a ride into the house on Leo!


The most important tick-borne illnesses in our area are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Ehrlichiosis. Lyme disease is transmitted by the black legged tick (deer tick, Ixodes scapularis). ~95% of reported cases occur in 14 states, including Virginia. The tick nymphs that transmit most Lyme disease are tiny and the biting tick may not be noticed. Peak season is spring and summer, especially May-June. The tick must be attached for ~30 hours to transmit Lyme disease. The characteristic rash is the “bullseye”- a red ring with central clearing that may move around. This rash occurs early after a tick bite (days to weeks but usually by 7 days) and affects about 75% of people who get infected in the localized stage of Lyme disease. The blood tests for Lyme may be negative during this early phase. Not everyone with Lyme disease develops this type of rash and the rash can take a variety of forms, so absence of the classic rash does not rule out Lyme disease. There are pictures of the ticks and the rash on the CDC website .


The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to take precautions including wearing long-sleeves and pants, tucked in, when outdoors in summer and especially in the woods or shady areas. Clothing and exposed skin may be treated with repellants like permethrin or DEET. You should also make a habit of showering and doing a tick check after spending time outdoors. If you find a tick attached, remove it by the head with fine-tip tweezers. In areas with high rates of infected ticks, including Virginia, a single dose of doxycycline given within 72hr of the tick bite may reduce the risk of Lyme disease. If you find a tick attached, you should call your doctor to discuss whether prophylaxis is right for you.

Detailed information about tick-borne illnesses is available from the CDC, Virginia Department of Health and from the Staunton News Leader.

Don’t Gamble with Actinic Keratosis

The facts about actinic keratosis, or AK for short, can be scary:

  • It’s the most common precancer.
  • It affects more than 58 million Americans.
  • Left untreated, AKs may become life-threatening squamous cell carcinomas.

But it’s also a fact that YOU have more power than you may know when it comes to your skin health.  Millions of people just like you have stopped cancer in its tracks. Here’s how…

Know What to Look For

Early detection is key to preventing and treating the development of skin cancer.  Make a monthly skin check a part of your routine and take note of anything suspicious.  Look for signs of AK such as scaly patches, red bumps with tan crusts, an area that feels like sandpaper, or anything that keeps coming back or doesn’t heal.  The primary cause of AKs is chronic sun exposure, so pay particular attention to the face, lips, ears, scalp, shoulders, neck, hands, and forearms.

Choose Action Over Fear

Got questions or concerns? Don’t talk yourself out of taking action.  Have we mentioned that early detection is your #1 asset?  Pick up the phone and call your board-certified dermatologist for an appointment.  Skin is our specialty.  If we determine the spot you noticed is an AK, we have a host of treatment options right in our office.

Get Treatment

Early treatment can eliminate almost all actinic keratoses before they become skin cancers.  Treatments for AKs are numerous, including:

  • Cryotherapy: Using this quick and simple procedure, your doctor applies liquid nitrogen to the AK, freezing the growth which will later fall off.
  • Photodynamic Therapy: This non-invasive treatment uses a strong blue light and a photosensitizing gel to destroy the AK cells. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is often used for treating multiple AKs on the face and scalp.
  • Topical Medications: These come in the form of creams, gels, and liquid solutions and are applied directly to the skin.
  • Laser Resurfacing: Your doctor uses a laser to remove the surface layer of the skin, destroying the AK cells.
  • Chemical Peel: Can also be used to remove the top layer of the skin to destroy AK cells.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Give it the love it deserves by protecting it and caring for it all year round.  See something that concerns you? Set up an appointment with us at Savola Dermatology Center today. (540) 451-2833

5 Things You Need to Know about Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the #1 cancer affecting Americans.

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.  The three types of skin cancer you’ll hear about most often are basal cell and squamous cell (both referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer) and melanoma.  Although melanoma only accounts for 1% of skin cancers, it’s the most deadly.

Skin cancer is the most preventable cancer.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.  That sounds pretty scary.  While skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer, it’s also the most preventable. You can hold that power in your hands: sunscreen.  Studies have shown that about 90% of nonmelanomas and 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

  Know your risk.


Overall, incidence rates of skin cancer are higher in women than in men before age 50, but by age 65, rates in men are double those in women, and by age 80 they are triple.  Recreational exposure to UV radiation is the key culprit.  Young women going for the bronze are at the highest risk. The use of a tanning bed before age 35 – even once – increases the risk for melanoma by 75%.  While men may often not be deliberately striving to tan, the cumulative effects of sun exposure catch up with them as men may be less proactive in both sun protection and early detection of skin anomalies.

In addition to UV exposure, other major risk factors include a personal or family history of skin cancers, fair skin that burns easily, immune-suppressing diseases or treatments, and atypical, larger, or numerous moles.

Skin cancer is easily treated if caught early.

All of this can make one squeamish and want to avoid the subject of moles, sunburns, and cancer altogether.  But almost all cases of nonmelanoma cancers can be cured, especially if detected and treated early!  Melanoma is also highly curable when detected early.  The key is to catch the warning signs of melanoma before it spreads to other parts of the body.  Make self-exams for spots and changes part of your skin care routine and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

 See something? Say something.

You know your body best.  Don’t ignore your gut – if you notice something out of the ordinary or have any concerns, speak with your board-certified dermatologist.  Skin cancer can also develop where the sun doesn’t shine.  It’s important to have yearly skin checks by a trained professional who can detect anomalies in areas you may have missed, as well as help monitor the health of your skin.

Please remember, early detection is key to treating skin cancer.  If you have questions about your risks or have concerns about your skin, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with us at Savola Aethetic Dermatology Center today. Same day medical and cosmetic appointments are available. (540) 451-2833

Summer Skin Care – What You Should Know About Sunscreen

The summer season is in full swing, and if you’re like us you’re trying to squeeze in all the barbeques, ball games, and beach time you possibly can during this beautiful time of year.  In between soaking up all the joys of summer, please take a quick moment to review our sunscreen recommendations so you can look and feel your best.

We all know we should avoid sunburn, but it’s easy to head out to the garden or leave for an outdoor event and figure we won’t get “too” burned.  But did you know that in addition to redness and pain, repeated sunburns are the main risk factors for skin cancers (and wrinkles!)?  Sunlight includes visible light (the colors we see) and other frequencies that we can’t see, like ultraviolet light (UV).  And while we can’t see UV light, we do see its short term and long term effects on our skin. Fortunately, prevention goes a long way, and we can reduce these risks by using a good sunscreen every day.  Consider sunscreen application like you do brushing and flossing – a quick, daily ritual that pays dividends.

There are two classes of sunscreens – physical blockers and chemical blockers. Physical blockers reflect UV light. Chemical blockers absorb UV light. Physical blocker sunscreens are generally more effective and act more quickly (as soon as they are applied) than chemical blockers (which must be absorbed into the skin for about 15-30 minutes). In addition, Hawaii recently banned over-the-counter chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate because they may damage live coral.  Regardless of which class of sunscreen you choose, you should look at the label for these key words: “Broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB” and “SPF 15 or more”.

An SPF value indicates the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen provides compared to using no sunscreen. The sun is “stronger” in the middle of the day than in the morning or evening and is more intense at lower latitudes, so it’s important to know that an SPF value refers to the amount of solar exposure not time in the sun. A higher number SPF doesn’t mean you can spend more time outdoors without reapplying.

Sunscreen is regulated by the FDA like a medication, and if a sunscreen is not “Broad Spectrum SPF 15 or more”, it must carry a FDA warning of “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”  The FDA also requires an expiration date on the label. You can dive further into these specifics on the FDA’s website.

At Savola Aesthetic Dermatology Center we follow the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendations to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 for the most reliable protection.  And remember to reapply every 2 hours, or more often if you’re getting wet.  Sunscreens are water-resistant, not waterproof. Our favorite sunscreen brands have high quality physical blockers such as EltaMD or Aveeno.  We love these two because they use titanium dioxide for a strong physical barrier but still feel smooth and light. And some even provide tanning tint!

Our team is happy to answer any questions you have about sunscreen or our other skin care and preventative care recommendations. Call us today for a consultation! Dermatology 540-451-2833 | Spa 540-451-2836




Throughout History, Skin Health Has Been a Window into the Body

Medicine is full of interesting stories that are deeply entwined with major historical events. Before becoming a dermatologist, I trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases. For my senior lecture, I studied the history of the bubonic plague in San Francisco (I was living there at the time). Now I thought it would be fun to take a short look at the history of dermatology. Skin care specialists have been caring for patients even before Hippocrates, the father of “modern” medicine.

For example, in Ancient Egypt skin cancers were treated with arsenic (which incidentally, is still used on rare occasions to treat some skin diseases). Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used salt, oils, herbal mixtures and tree resins to smoothen wrinkles and remove blemishes (the first cosmetic dermatologists and med spas?). At Savola Aesthetic Dermatology, we use natural products such as Arnica The first textbook of general dermatology was published in 1799, Francesco Bianchi’s Dermatologia and soon after, the first medical school focused on dermatology was founded at the Hospital Saint-Louis in Paris in 1801.

At that time (before CT scans and MRIs), the diagnosis of skin diseases was considered a window into the body. I have seen this rule in action many times in my earlier career as an internist and now as a skin doctor, and keep this in the forefront of my practice every day. One of the most common treatments done by dermatologists today, cryosurgery (“freezing”), was developed in 1899 and as many of you know, is still one of our best ways to treat precancers of the skin. In 1932, the American Board of Dermatology was incorporated to ensure that skin doctors have up-to-date training and true expertise. Board-certification remains one of the key ways for patients to be confident that they are getting the best care for their skin. Today, the American Board of Dermatology continues to set high professional standards for ongoing education of practicing dermatologists and require regular continuing education and re-certification by exam every 10 years. Although I value this process, I am happy to say that I do not have to take this test again until 2026!

All You Need to Know About Microblading

What is Microblading?

Microblading is a manual “hand” method that delivers semi-permanent cosmetics for your eyebrows which creates extremely fine natural looking hair strokes. This will achieve perfectly natural looking, thick, full brows.

How long does Microblading last?

Depending on your skin type and care, the pigment will fade slowly over 18-24 months.

Before + After Photos

Is Microblading painful?

The service can be a little uncomfortable for those who are more sensitive. However, there is an anesthetic applied during to keep this to a minimum to where it is completely tolerable.

How does it work?

The pigment is applied with a specific tool that has a row of several fine needles to create thin hair like marks in the skin. The pigment is bladed just below the epidermis and the most shallow part of the dermis, making extremely fine natural looking hair strokes. A very natural result is achieved, as the hairs are bladed into the skin according to the natural hair growth direction. A touch up is included 4-6 weeks after your initial treatment.

How long does the service last?

The appointment will take about two hours.

Book an Appointment Today!

October 27, Fabulous Friday Special
$575.00 for the 1st 30 people (regular price $650.00)consult and first touch up treatment included.

Acne & Hydrafacials

What is Acne?

Acne is a disease of the skin that typically affects teenagers and some adults. If you’ve been fortunate enough to never have acne, consider yourself lucky. If not, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with and get rid of.

Acne is a result of the over-production of sebum, an oily substance, in the sebaceous glands. These glands are located beside hair follicles and produce a normal amount in most people. However, some experience this over-production due to larger glands, which can also trap the oil, bacteria and dead skin cells.

Not all skincare products can effectively treat and clear up acne. It generally takes the direction of a dermatologist to examine your skin and recommend a specific course of action to remedy the acne and set you on the path to clear skin. With over 12 years experience, let Dr. Kristen Savola, a board-certified dermatologist help assess your skincare needs and help you combat acne.

Hydrafacials can Help Acne!

Hydrafacial is a non-surgical facial rejuvenation. It removes dead skin cells and impurities while simultaneously bathing the new skin with cleansing, hydrating, and moisturizing serums. The treatment is soothing, refreshing, non-irritating, and immediately effective.

At SADC, we have seen great success in treating acne with Hydrafacial. The process gently exfoliates those dead skin cells and is a catalyst for generating new cells. This really opens up the pores, gets rid of the gunk, and lets your skin breathe. Contact us for more information or to schedule a Hydrafacial.

Clarifying Brightening Cleanser

We also recommend using our own Clarifying Brightening Cleanser. It is a very mild, yet effective cleanser that, when used as directed, will properly clean and treat the skin. It’s a great cleanser to use for an acne treatment regimen.


Welcome to the SADC blog and happy summer solstice! Now that summer is officially here and we are enjoying our time in the sun, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all of us to use our sunscreen. Sunscreen and moisturizer are best and simplest ways to keep your skin healthy and looking its best. The job of your sunscreen is to block the harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer and wrinkles. However, not all sunscreens are equal.

The best sunscreens block both UV A and UV B (these are labeled broad spectrum sunscreen). Both UV A and UV B exposure can lead to skin cancer, wrinkles and photoaging.  There are two main types of sunscreen: chemical blockers or physical blockers. Physical blockers are more effective than chemical blockers, but in the past they were less appealing to use. Remember the thick white or crazy colored zinc oxide from the 80s? Luckily, these types of sunscreens are much more user friendly now- they go on lightly, feel much better, and even come tinted if you would like a fake tan (the only way to tan says your dermatologist!).

Our favorite sunscreen at SADC is EltaMD. Chemical sunscreens are also effective and easy to apply, and are generally PABA-free to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. The other basic rules of sunscreen are use SPF 30 or above, use enough and reapply every 2 hours. And don’t forget the back of your ears, your feet, and for some of you, the top of your head….for additional information about sunscreens and preventing skin cancer, we suggest the American Academy of Dermatology ( From the team at Savola Aesthetic Dermatology Center, have a safe and happy summer!

Experience Natural Beauty with Restylane

If you want to treat your facial lines, but are afraid of having stiff features, then worry no more! Let us show you how to have natural expressions with these amazing, new products from Restylane.

As we age, our skin loses elasticity and the lines that run from the sides of the nose toward the corners of the mouth (nasolabial folds) and the lines that run from the corner of your mouth toward the chin (marionette lines) become more pronounced. Restylane has introduced two new hyaluronic acid gels to treat natural expression lines. This gel is comprised of XpresHAn Technology™ that helps maintain natural expression in motion.

Restylane Refyne

The unique cross-linking of the gel in Restylane Refyne is also designed to help support your natural expression—for real-life results that help maintain natural movement when you’re smiling, frowning and even puckering up.

Restylane Defyne

Restylane Defyne is also designed to help support your facial expressions—for natural-looking results that help maintain your natural movement.

This technology is ideal for maintaining a very youthful and natural look. It’s perfect for those who have never used fillers and would like to experience them for the first time. Schedule an appointment today!

Dr. Savola is one of only 150 specialists in the entire country to have been chosen to become an expert trainer in this new product. She states “this new technology is a breakthrough in that it promotes the natural expression of movement and lasts longer than previous fillers.”

During the month of March, receive $100 (per syringe)



Visit for more information.

Winter is the Time for IPL & Spider Vein Treatments

Are you embarrassed by unsightly spider veins or want to repair sun damage? See how you can benefit from IPL and Laser Spider Vein removal. Winter is a great time to perform these treatments so your skin is ready once warmer weather arrives.

IPL (Intense-Pulsed Light Treatment) is a light source for rejuvenating the skin. It treats primarily sun damage on face, neck, chest, arms and hands. It is effective for brown pigmentation, sun spots, redness, and signs of photo-aging.

There may be some discomfort during the treatment. The first treatment is usually the most sensitive, but the treatments usually become even more comfortable as your skin starts to clear. Expect treatments to take around 30-90 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area.

Most treatments require around 1-3 visits, which are scheduled about a month apart.

Patients will need to arrive an hour before their appointment to allow for a desensitization period where we apply a cooling gel to the area.

Vascular Laser is the gold standard and most effective laser for treating broken blood vessels and redness associated with rosacea. It is also the treatment of choice for removing unwanted venous spider veins on the legs.

See the difference for yourself.