My passion for medicine, the skin and rural America began as a child. I grew up in Eastern Oregon on a sheep farm where I watched my father dedicate his life to improving the health and quality of life for the animals by providing for the whole animal. We designed specialized feeding programs and the best medicine and treatments in order to breed championship sheep. I, also, personally experienced the challenges of highly sensitive skin. For most of my childhood, I struggled with allergies, eczema and sensitive skin. I know that any individual, especially a child, with skin problems doesn't affect just the individual, it affects the entire family. So, from an early age, I was fascinated by the process of putting human and animal bodies in their best shape possible. It wasn't just about treating but preventing.
I received my M.D. from the Oregon Health Sciences University, now one of the top two clinical medical schools in the nation. I knew I wanted to spend time in family practice before specializing because I wanted to be able to focus on the whole person, not just the case. Specialists often become too focused on their one area of speciality that they neglect to view the person as a whole. I later learned 85% of all skin diseases are a manifestation of internal conditions. I spent three years in family practice for the U.S. Navy then completed my dermatology residency at University Hospital in San Diego, California, now one of the top 3 dermatology training programs in the nation.
My passion has always been for rural America. When I was in training, I would see a man-power distribution map which showed there were no dermatologists in the Southeastern portion of Oregon and Southwest Idaho. I believe that people living in rural areas deserve to have access to specialty medicine. Oregon had invested in my education, and I felt they deserved a return on their investment. I have dedicated my career to serving those 110,000 people who live in a 30,000 square mile area of Southeastern Oregon and Southwestern Idaho.
Within the first year of practicing Dermatology, I noticed that there was a trend of people who were not getting well, and not because I wasn't smart enough. An increasing number of patients were unhappy with modest treatment results that did not last, along with the side effects they experienced while using many types of prescription medication. There were a couple of diseases that continued to stump me. Conditions known as "winter itch" and "sun allergy" that would come and go no matter what the treatment. I knew there was something deeper to be investigated and resolved. I was determined to figure out a solution that was both safe and effective, and so I put together a research team.
At the time our research began in 1989, the outer layers of the skin were thought to be nothing more than a superficial layer of cellophane. The question our team hoped to answer was, "If we could optimize the structure and function of the skin, could we prevent skin diseases and skin cancer, and possibly even skin aging?" We first had to study the skin barrier, though. After years of basic research, we discovered that the main skin problems stem from chronic inflammation and disruption of the skin barrier. In 2002, my team developed a product line, Epionce, that not only helps to calm the damaging effects of chronic inflammation in the skin but also helps our body naturally repair and fortify the strength of the protective skin barrier. My research and the Epionce products we created help me be a better doctor for my patients by helping improve their quality of life with higher clearance rates and more prolonged remissions. All of the cosmetic treatments have been developed by using medical devices combined in unique protocols to reverse and prevent cosmetically disfiguring conditions. Ultimately, they work together to improve the health of the skin.
My hope is for the people in Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho to know the resource that is available to them concerning their skin and to take advantage of my years of study and expertise. My focus is entirely about the health of the skin so it can function at its best. No one must live with the burden of untreated skin disease or ailments because at the end of the day, everything we do at CT Derm is about improving the quality of skin.
-Dr. Carl Thornfeldt MD