Chilton clinic provides care for skin
By Stephen Groessel
The Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin, S. C. staff in Chilton specializes in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment, acne, warts, rashes, psoriasis, mole and cyst removal. From left are three members of the staff, Kay Bartelt, LPN, Dr. Betsy Wernli, M. D., and Ashleigh Preston, receptionist. Stephen Groessel photo

Being comfortable in your own skin is an expression that implies much more than simply having a good self-image or body image.

We often forget that the skin is an organ of the body and keeping it healthy is just as important as caring for the rest of the body’s organs.

Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin, S. C. is the umbrella name that identifies neighborhood clinics in northeastern Wisconsin devoted to the care of the skin. The staff at these clinics performs skin cancer diagnosis and treatment; treats acne, warts, rashes, and psoriasis, and do mole and cyst removal and diagnose and treat skin malignancies. They also offer surgical and cosmetic dermatology services.

Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin, S. C. handles the whole spectrum of dermatologic care. All of its medical doctors are Dermatology Association Board Certified. Its reputation stands on a highly qualified and caring staff.

Services at Dermatology Associates clinics are described in this fashion: “Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin is proud to provide patients of all ages with convenient locations throughout Northeast Wisconsin. Our certified dermatologists, Mohs surgeons, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners utilize the latest treatment protocols to ensure the best acne skin care treatment, laser skin treatment, and rosacea treatment along with Mohs skin cancer surgery. Our fellowship trained Mohs micrographic surgeons offer in-office, same-day treatment for cosmetically sensitive skin cancer areas.”

Treatments at each of the convenient clinics are timely. “With numerous locations throughout Wisconsin to serve you, we are committed to treating acute problems within a week, not months. We treat patients of all ages, and accept all major health insurance plans and Medicare. No referral is necessary!”

One of its 22 convenient clinics in northeast Wisconsin is found in Chilton at 451 E. Brooklyn St., Suite 5. Other nearby clinics are in Manitowoc and Appleton.

Dr. Betsy Wernli is the medical doctor serving the Chilton clinic. Although based in Manitowoc, she practices at the Chilton site every Thursday. Besides Wernli, the staff at the Chilton clinic consists of Rikki Hammel, NP (nurse practitioner); dermatology assistants Kay Bartlet, Jordan Meidl, Samantha Sommers and receptionist Ashleigh Preston.

“More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. This exposure is cumulative. Each unprotected exposure increases one’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.”

Early detection important

“Fortunately, most skin cancers are visible and can be diagnosed early and successfully treated before they spread to other parts of the body. In fact, many lesions can be detected and treated at a precancerous or preinvasive stage — the point at which their cells have not yet penetrated beyond the surface of the skin.”

Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin surgeons practice Mohs micrographic surgery, a technique for the removal of common skin cancers that preserves the surrounding tissue. It is commonly used on the head and neck areas minimizing scaring. It preserves the greatest amount of healthy tissue while also most completely removes all types of cancer cells whether they be basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.

The cure rates for basal or squamous carcinoma cancers are nearly 100 percent using the Mohs method, much better than the rates for standard excision or any other accepted method. Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin doctors are trained in the Mohs method. Their own dermopathologists exercise their specialty in reading the specimens taken from patients.

A team approach is used at Dermatology Associates whereby all physicians collaborate on different cases, namely the doctor, the medical assistant; dermopathologist and surgeon. Wernli said she performs all types of skin cancer removal except those on the face. Some skin cancers are hard to diagnose and require a biopsy first. Certain cancers call for a different treatment plan for the patient. As diagnostic tools, the doctor uses his eyes and hands, touch and feel, said Dr. Wernli.

Psoriasis, heart disease & cancer

The relationship between psoriasis, cardiovascular disease and cancer is a huge growing concern nowadays. Obese persons, diabetics, and those with cardiovascular issues have reason to be concerned. There are health implications beyond the condition of one’s skin. Dr. Wernli said metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. People with psoriasis are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes than people who don’t have the skin disorder.

“People with psoriasis should not only seek care for the symptoms of that disorder, but should also be screened for heart disease risk factors and make lifestyle changes to minimize their risk of future cardiovascular problems, such as maintaining a healthy weight.”

While anyone can develop skin cancer, persons susceptible to skin damage are those with a history of fair skin, freckles, blonde or red hair and those people ought to be examined on a yearly basis and if cancers occur, should have three-month check-ups, Dr. Wernli recommends.

Early detection of melanoma skin cancer is important to prevent it from moving deeper into the layers of one’s skin. Survival is high when caught at an early stage. Genetics could play a part in individuals having melanoma. One’s type of skin and the existence of moles are also factors. The contracting of melanoma will double when a person contracts five or more severe sunburns in their lifetime, said Dr. Wernli.

Basal carcinoma and squamous carninoma cancers are the two most common types and are often found for instance among those who are exposed to a great deal of sun such as farmers.

Women under age 40 who regularly make use of tanning beds have a high percentage of basal and squamous carcinoma cancers. Any exposure that changes the skin color is damaging, said Dr. Wernli. She recommends topical spray tans which she says are safe.

Sunscreens are chemical agents that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.

When it comes to protecting one’s skin from the sun while recreating or working outdoors Dr. Wernli says it is important to use a suncreen SPF 30 or more. That covers a broad spectrum protecting one from UV and UVA waves. After an initial application, one ought to reapply the sunscreen after two hours, especially after a swim.

Correcting vitamin D deficiency calls for a different approach these days. Dr. Wernli says more people are deficient because the guidelines have changed from recommending exposure to the sun to using oral supplements.

Dr. Wernli with her husband lives in Kohler, but was raised in Deadwod, S. D. She took her undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma and also medical school there. She spent her internal medicine residency at Kansas City and dermatology specialty training in Iowa.

For more information on Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin visit schedule an appointment or for information call (920) 683-5278 or (920) 849-2100.