Meet Dr. Likhari, board-certified dermatologist and owner of Sweetwater Dermatology! This mama of three’s is sharing a bit about herself, her family and how mom-life is going for her. She’s also filling us in on UPF clothing, her safest sunscreen brand recommendations and setting the record straight on SPF levels! Being the well-traveled and incredibly charming person she is, we think you’ll really enjoy her interview. Plus, you’ll never believe what happened to her on one of her flights from Tanzania to Zanzibar!
If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
Driven. I tend to get bored if I’m not constantly challenging myself to learn something new or set new goals. Once I put my mind to something, I work tirelessly to achieve it. This is both good and bad because while it leads to new opportunities for personal and professional growth, I also have to be very intentional about slowing down at times and enjoying the status quo.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I once saved a life on an airplane! My husband and I happened to be in the right place at the right time to help a little boy who was having a medical emergency on a flight from Tanzania to Zanzibar.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you along your motherhood journey?
My husband for being an incredible partner on this wild ride called parenthood; my mother, who was like superwoman to me; and my dad, siblings, parents- and sister-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles, and best friends who have stepped in in so many ways to help fill the void that my mother left behind when she passed away from cancer 3 years ago. It truly does take a village and their support and love means the world to me.
What inspired you to become a dermatologist?
When I started medical school I thought I would become a pediatrician or OB/GYN or heart surgeon. I had never really considered dermatology until I was on a medical mission trip to Vietnam as a third-year medical student and saw my first case of leprosy. I became fascinated with skin disease.
The skin can be a mirror to the inside of the body and figuring out a rash is like playing detective, using various clues to come up with a diagnosis. A typical day as a dermatologist is filled with variety. I might treat a baby’s eczema, cut out a skin cancer, and inject Botox all in the same morning. And I love the continuity of care in dermatology. Getting to know my patients over many years is one of the best parts of my job!
Tell us more about your journey and how you turned your passion into a business?
I attended the University of Texas at Austin for college, Baylor College of Medicine in the renowned Texas Medical Center for medical school, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN for my dermatology residency. After completing residency in 2014, I explored a variety of practice settings, from private practice to academic medicine.
Most recently, I spent the last 5 years working at Kelsey-Seybold in the Humble area. While I enjoyed my practice there, I had a personal goal of returning to my hometown of Sugar Land to serve the community where I grew up. Coming from a large organization like Kelsey-Seybold, I wanted to create a smaller, family-friendly, neighborhood practice where I could grow with my patients and build lifelong relationships. Sweetwater Dermatology’s mission is to provide high-quality, evidence-based dermatologic care and to empower patients to take control of their health through education and counseling.
Briefly tell us about your services and what age ranges you specialize in?
At my practice, Sweetwater Dermatology, I treat all ages, from newborns to adults. I specialize in medical dermatology, which includes eczema, skin cancer, warts, psoriasis, acne/rosacea, rashes, and more; surgical dermatology, which includes removing skin cancers, cysts, and lipomas; and cosmetic dermatology, which includes Botox, chemical peels, microneedling, skin tag removals, and more.
Can you explain when to see a dermatologist vs. when to see an esthetician for acne?
A board-certified dermatologist is a medical doctor who has completed 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 4 years of residency and who has passed a rigorous certification exam through the American Board of Dermatology.
As acne is a medical condition, one should always consult with a physician for treatment. A dermatologist can address the root of the problem and recognize when something isn’t following the usual patterns and needs more investigation.
An esthetician license requires 750 hours of training from a cosmetology school which takes about 6-9 months to complete. Estheticians are trained in specific procedures such as facials, superficial chemical peels, and extractions. None of these treatments alone provide sustained results for acne, but they can be great adjuncts to a medical treatment plan developed by a dermatologist.
Dermatologists and estheticians often work together. We have a fantastic licensed esthetician at Sweetwater Dermatology who will be doing facials, superficial chemical peels, and eventually microneedling.
Can you recommend a safe brand of sunscreen for ourselves and our children? Also a recommended SPF?
Sunscreen should be SPF 30 or higher and say “Broad-Spectrum” on the bottle. Sunscreen can be used safely in children aged 6 months or older. For younger babies, I recommend avoiding intense sunlight, using sun protective clothing, and staying in shaded areas.
There are two types of sunscreen – mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They reflect sunlight and are safe for sensitive skin. They are not absorbed by the body. Chemical sunscreens contain a number of chemicals that absorb sunlight and transform it into heat. These have been shown to be absorbed in small amounts into the bloodstream, although this does not seem to have any health implications and chemical sunscreens are still considered safe. Check the ingredients on the label to determine whether a sunscreen is the mineral or chemical type! For children and patients with sensitive skin, I prefer mineral sunscreens.
There are numerous excellent and safe over the counter sunscreen options and some of my favorites for kids are Blue Lizard Baby, Sun Bum mineral, Thinksport, Equate mineral, and Elta MD Pure. For adults wanting a more elegant option for the face, I like Elta MD Physical Blocker, Live Tinted Hueguard, and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral sunscreen.
(I have no conflict of interest. These are just my personal favorites.)
What is the number one thing we can do for our skin this summer?
Besides the obvious — wearing and reapplying sunscreen every 1-2 hours while outdoors – I would recommend investing in some UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing. UPF indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin.
For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly. UPF clothing can be found at sporting goods stores and various online retailers and includes things like hats, swim shirts, golf attire, and more.
The benefit of UPF clothing is that you don’t have to keep reapplying sunscreen in areas covered by the clothing. It tends to be lightweight and breathable and oftentimes, patients report feeling cooler even in a long-sleeved UPF shirt than with the sun beating down on exposed arms. This is also an excellent investment for kids who sometimes resist sunscreen!
Do you have a favorite thing you do for self-care?
I love to journal. When I feel overwhelmed, it helps me clarify my thoughts to see them written out. Exercise, as much as I might grumble about it prior to doing it, always makes me feel good by the end of it. I also just love a great massage and am always looking for recommendations! Finally, grabbing a boba tea and wandering through the aisles at Target or HomeGoods is the best “me time.”
What is something you would tell the “old you” before you had kids?
Take more naps!! And embrace spontaneity! Life will be impossible without Google calendars once you have kids.
Funniest shortcut or routine for helping you through parenthood.
Brushing the kids’ teeth while they’re in the shower at night. It’s so much more efficient and for some reason, they’re less likely to fight it.
We love to support local small businesses. What is your favorite place in the Sugar Land, Pearland or Friendswood areas to:
Take your kids out for some fun: the Castle Park in Commonwealth has a special place in our hearts because it’s close to where my husband and I both grew up, and our kids love it too.
Get your hair (eyebrows) done: Genesis Skin-Care
Get your nails done: Mani Pedi at the Isle
Get a facial: Sweetwater Dermatology, of course!
Shop for yourself: Target and HomeGoods
Shop for your kids: Target
To book an appointment with Dr. Likhari, click here!
This article originally appeared in South Houston Moms website