Dr. Arnold W. Gurevitch, a dermatologist who worked with the indigent and throughout a 40-year teaching career at UCLA and USC hospitals advised the public on preventing and treating skin diseases, has died at the age of 66.
Gurevitch died July 15 in Los Angeles of anaplastic thyroid cancer, USC officials announced Friday.
Since 1996, Gurevitch had served as chief of dermatology at USC's Keck School of Medicine and for County-USC Healthcare Network, formerly General Hospital.
Earlier, from 1969 until he moved to USC, Gurevitch had taught and practiced at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
A respected teacher who trained hundreds of dermatologists, Gurevitch was also known for working to secure additional medical resources for the underprivileged.
Along with his wife, Camille, Gurevitch also helped establish and became a major supporter of the 27-year-old Community Magnet School of Los Angeles. With his help, the school has pioneered multiracial and multiethnic academic programs for an integrated student body.
In 1999, Gurevitch was named the peer-recommended dermatologist for Los Angeles in a national list of top doctors composed by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of Services. The list was compiled by asking physicians in some 50 major cities to name the doctor in each specialty that they would choose to treat their own families.
Because of such widespread respect, Gurevitch was often consulted by the news media and academic publications on skin care. His advice was always pragmatic and down to earth.
In a 1998 Times article on how often one should shower or bathe, Gurevitch said, "You'll know when you're overdoing it. The skin will become uncomfortably dry and scaly."
As for California's beach bunnies, he warned in a recent issue of USC Health Magazine that everyone should wear sunscreen with a sun-protection factor of 15 to 30. But he added, "People think that since they wear sunscreen, they can stay out in the sun all day. But that's not the idea. No sunscreen is 100% effective."
He also emphasized that advice in a 1999 article in the campus newspaper, the Daily Trojan, warning about melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer.
"One in every 75 live births today will most likely develop melanoma," he said. "In the 1930s, it was one in every 1,500. Sun damage is cumulative. Ultimately it will exceed a certain point and can cause skin cancer "
In an article about acne for the drkoop.com Web site in 1999, Gurevitch assured sufferers that dirt was never the cause.
"The truth is, you simply couldn't clean your face enough to prevent acne," he wrote. "Excessive cleansing and scrubbing is not the answer. By their nature, acne treatments and medications are very drying to the skin. So cleansing really has to be very gentle or the skin can get chapped."
The dermatologist even waded into the touchy debate on baldness or hair loss, commenting on popular drugs advertised to counter the problem. For a health newsletter published by USC Care Medical Group, he warned:
"For men and women using a 2% minoxidil formula, less than one-third of the users respond to the treatment and a majority of those responses are cessation of hair loss. Less than 10% of all the users actually regrow hair.... They [the drugs] are really best for younger people at the onset of hair loss. Once you have a shiny scalp showing through, they're not going to work."
A native of Los Angeles, Gurevitch earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his medical degree at UCLA. He interned at what was then Los Angeles County General Hospital and was a resident at Harbor General and UCLA School of Medicine. After two years as a major in the Army, serving at Ft. Ord and in Korea, he established his practice and joined the faculty at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Gurevitch received the Harbor-UCLA Department of Medicine Distinguished Teaching Award and UCLA's Victor D. Newcomer Outstanding Clinical Teacher Award.
He is survived by his wife; a son, Douglas; a daughter, Lara Holtzman; a brother, Robert; and one grandson.
A memorial program is scheduled at 4 p.m. Sept. 26 in Mayer Auditorium at USC's Health Sciences Campus, 1975 Zonal Ave., Los Angeles.
The family has asked that, instead of flowers, memorial donations be sent to the Dr. Arnold W. Gurevitch Fund for Academic Dermatology, 2020 Zonal Ave., IRD 620, Los Angeles, CA 90033.