When Should I Call My Doctor About Age Spots
While age spots are not skin cancer, its important to have a doctor check your skin to make sure your age spots arent dangerous. You should visit your doctor if you notice new spots or spots that:
- Are very dark or have red or bluish spots or specks in them or are multicolored
- Change shape or appearance over time
- Have an irregular border
How To Identify Skin Cancer Vs Age Spots
Finding a strange spot on your body can be pretty scary. You dont know how long it will be there, if its dangerous, or what it even is. The best thing you can do when you find weird-looking spot on your body is to visit your dermatologist.
While youre waiting to see a doctor, you may want to better understand two common types of skin spots: skin cancer and age spots, also known as liver spots. Its easy to get the two confused, so lets take a closer look at them.
Normal Mole Looks Like A Dark Spot On The Skin
A raised black spot on your skin could just be a dark growth that is classed as a regular mole or beauty mark. Normal dark moles can grow anywhere on your body like your face, neck, abdomen, or groin.
Dermatologist Dr. Amanda Oakely says that most people have some type of moles on their skin. Moles can be of varying colors, and red moles are not uncommon. Normal moles can also be black or brown skin growths. Some other features of normal moles can be:4
- Dark flat or raised skin spots that range in size from being a tiny black dot to many centimeters across.
- Dark brown or black bumps that can have a flat or uneven surface and may have rough edges.
- Raised dark bumps that appear in groups or clusters.
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Normal Mole: Smooth Border
More examples of ordinary moles: a uniformly tan or brown skin discoloration, 1 to 2 mm in diameter, a larger skin discoloration, a mole that is slightly raised above the surface of the skin, a mole that is more clearly raised above the skin, and a pink or flesh-colored mole.
All of these are normal, and even a single mole may go through these stages over time. However, all of them have a smooth border and are clearly separated from the surrounding skin, in contrast to a melanoma tumor.
Flag A Spot Thats Slow To Heal
Moles and skin spots can get scraped, bumped, and cut, but an otherwise healthy mole should heal quickly. If it doesnt heal within three weeks, that can be a sign of skin cancer, says Dr. McNeill, noting that this includes melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell cancers. That cancer warning holds true even if, say, the bleeding or oozing happens only occasionally; if the skin sore heals and then comes back; or if a scab develops and the scab takes a few weeks to heal.
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How To Get Rid Of Sunspots
There are topical treatments and dermatological procedures that can lighten sunspots’ appearance; however, it’s always best to consult a dermatologist to determine which approach is best for you, says Kathleen Suozzi, MD, a dermatologist at Yale Medicine.;
To understand how the following treatments work, it’s important to mention how sunspots form in the first place. They appear darker than the surrounding skin because what you’re actually seeing is a concentrated patch of a natural skin pigment called melanin, which gives your skin its color.
Darker people typically have more melanin. You can ramp up melanin production by spending time in the sun or a tanning bed.
With that in mind, here are six common treatments for reducing the appearance of sunspots:
You may also find other “remedies” by casually browsing the internet, but keep in mind that there’s no scientific evidence to back the effectiveness of applying any of the following to your skin for sunspots:;
- Apple cider vinegar
What Are Liver Spots Or Age Spots
“Liver spots” or “age spots” are common names for solar lentigines on the back of the hands. The term “liver spot” is actually a misnomer since these spots are not caused by liver problems or liver disease. While lentigines do tend to appear over time, they are not in themselves a sign of old age but a sign of sun exposure.
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Should I Be Checked For Skin Cancer
The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to use sun protection and have regular skin examinations by a doctor who is trained in using dermoscopy . If you are at high risk of skin cancer , full skin examinations are recommended every 6 months.
Early detection of skin cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment. You should become familiar with your skin, even the skin that is not normally exposed to the sun, and tell a doctor if you notice any change in shape, colour or size of a mole or freckle, or if you develop a new spot.
Melanomas That Could Be Mistaken For A Common Skin Problem
Melanoma that looks like a bruise
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including the bottom of the foot, where it can look like a bruise as shown here.
Melanoma that looks like a cyst
This reddish nodule looks a lot like a cyst, but testing proved that it was a melanoma.
In people of African descent, melanoma tends to develop on the palm, bottom of the foot, or under or around a nail.
Did you spot the asymmetry, uneven border, varied color, and diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser?
Dark line beneath a nail
Melanoma can develop under a fingernail or toenail, looking like a brown line as shown here.
While this line is thin, some are much thicker. The lines can also be much darker.
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Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Squamous cell skin cancers can vary in how they look. They usually occur on areas of skin exposed to the sun;like the scalp or ear.
Thanks to Dr Charlotte Proby for her permission and the;photography.
You should see your doctor if you;have:
- a spot or sore that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks
- a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over, or bleeds for more than 4 weeks
- areas where the skin has broken down and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, and you can’t think of a reason for this change
Your doctor can decide whether you need any tests.
Cancer and its management J Tobias and D;HochhauserBlackwell, 2015
Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology VT De Vita, TS Lawrence;and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer, 2018
How Are Seborrheic Keratoses Treated
Seborrheic keratoses are harmless and are not contagious. Therefore, they don’t need to be treated.
If you decide to have seborrheic keratoses removed because you don’t like the way they look, or because they are chronically irritated by clothing, methods for removing them include cutting them off, cryosurgery, and electrosurgery.
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New Changing Or Unusual
The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests being aware of 3 basic indicators of skin cancer that should prompt you to make an appointment with your dermatologist: new, changing, or unusual. If you see a new spot on your skin, like a mole, you should get it checked out. A spot that youve had for a while that starts to change can also be a warning sign. Some changes to be concerned about are: bleeding, crusting, oozing, enlarging border, increasing in size, or changing color. You might also notice an ugly duckling on your skin a spot on your skin that doesnt look like neighboring spots. For example, you might notice that one of your moles is significantly larger than the others. This could be an indication of skin cancer see your dermatologist.
Looks Can Be Deceptive
Precancerous skin growths may look harmless. As you now know, their looks can be deceptive. Following your dermatologists recommendations can help protect your skin and your health.
Precancerous skin growths may look harmless
These arrows point to precancerous skin growths that are barely noticeable.
Related AAD resources
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Are Liver Spots Cancerous
Liver spots are not cancerous, and they will not negatively impact skin health in any real way. However, according to Dr. Walker, While age spots themselves are entirely benign, they are often a warning sign that a patient is at greater risk for skin cancers since they indicate prolonged or more extensive exposure to sunlight, which is the most common cause of skin cancer.
Since liver spots may be a warning sign that patients are at increased risk for skin cancers, Dr. Walker encourages these patients to schedule annual professional exams with their dermatologist, examine their skin for new or changing spots every month, and learn the ABCDEs of skin cancer by heart:
- A Asymmetry The spot is not the same on both sides
- B Border The border is not even and round but scalloped, rippled, or otherwise irregular
- C Color Very dark brown or black coloring, coloring different from other similar spots, or a mixture of colors within one spot
- D Diameter Liver spots can actually grow fairly large, but any spot bigger around than a pencil eraser may be a sign of melanoma and should be examined by a dermatologist
- E Evolution The spot changes or grows, especially if this evolution occurs quickly
Other warning signs that an age spot may be more serious include:
- The spot is painful or irritated
- The spot is itching
- The spot bleeds frequently
Skin Cancer Symptoms And Signs
Basal Cell Carcinoma
BCC is the most common type of skin cancer and has a predilection for sun-exposed skin. Tumors may appear as a pearly or waxy bumps usually with visible blood vessels , or as a flat scaly reddish patch with a brown border, or as a hard or scar-like lesion . Frequently BCCs can be itchy, often bleed, or in more advanced cases, ulcerate.
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Are You Seeing Spots
While often common in people over 50, even younger adults can develop sunspots. Also called age spots, liver spots, or solar lentigines, these dark spots come from exposure to the sun. People with lighter skin, women, and those with a family history of liver spots tend to be more affected. Of course, more exposure to sun or tanning beds also plays a significant part.
Do Freckles Need To Be Treated
Since freckles are almost always harmless, there is no need to treat them. As with many skin conditions, it’s best to avoid the sun as much as possible, or use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30. This is especially important because people who freckle easily are more likely to develop skin cancer.
If you feel that your freckles are a problem or you don’t like the way they look, you can cover them up with makeup or consider certain types of laser treatment, liquid nitrogen treatment or chemical peels.
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Can Skin Cancer On The Scalp Spread To The Brain
Yes. If left untreated, skin cancer on the scalp can spread from your scalp to other areas of your body, including your brain.
This is known as metastatic cancer or, in some areas, stage IV cancer. Spreading to the brain is a relatively common form of metastatic skin cancer, especially with melanoma, which is part of why early treatment is essential.
Catch A Problem Early
Melanoma doesnt have to be deadly. Early detection and prompt medical treatment are crucial. Often free screenings are also available, so check out local health fairs or ask a medical professional. Most importantly, reduce risk by applying sunscreen and avoiding the sun between 10 am and 2 pm when rays are the strongest. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For more information about skin cancer prevention, speak with a dermatologist.
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Is It Hyperpigmentation Or Melanoma
Noticing a brown or black spot on your skin that wasnt there before can be scary. Sometimes, these spots are nothing more than hyperpigmentation, a common and harmlessbut somewhat alarmingcondition where small sections or patches of your skin take on a darker color than the rest of your skin. Hyperpigmentation is nothing more than concentrated deposits of melanin, which can collect randomly in one spot on your skin.
Unfortunately, the harmlessness of hyperpigmentation sometimes leads individuals who have the condition to ignore dark spots on their skin. If these spots are just concentrations of melanin, you really dont have to pay much attention to them. However, one symptom of melanomathe most severe and dangerous type of skin canceris brown or black spots or moles on the skin. Without careful attention to detail or medical consultation, its easy to mistake melanoma for simply hyperpigmentation .
The Differences Between Hyperpigmentation and Melanoma
Fortunately, there are subtle differences in moles or spots caused by hyperpigmentation and moles or spots. These differences fall into five different categories, which are easy to remember because they bear the initials of ABCDE. In assessing moles or dark spots, these initials refer to asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and elevation. Read on to discover more about the signs in each of these categories that can indicate melanoma rather than hyperpigmentation.
Sunspots Vs Skin Cancer: How To Spot The Difference
- Posted on: Jul 15 2017
- Barry Goldman MD
One of the best things you can do for your skin is to be in tune with it and be able to identify something new or any changes. By performing monthly skin cancer checks on yourself, you will be able to identify any new moles, growths, or changes in your skin making it easier to catch an abnormality like skin cancer. When doing a self-check, however, you may come across sunspots which you may mistake for something like skin cancer. To help you differentiate between the two, we have created a brief article. Read on to learn more.
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What Are Sun Spots
PSA beach lovers: if you love the sun or have spent a decent amount of time exposed to it, sun spots also called liver spots or age spots are likely to show up on your skin at one point or another. ;These age spots tend to appear you guessed it with age, though younger people arent entirely in the clear either. Vitamin D in appropriate amounts is good for you, but if you spend lots of time in the sun, youre most definitely at risk.
These spots show up as small, dark areas on your skin . They vary in size, and tend to appear in places that are most easily exposed to the sun: the face, back of hands, shoulders, tops of feet, and arms1.
What Are The Complications Associated With Age Spots
Age spots are not harmful, but you should visit your dermatologist, who can examine them and monitor your skin for any changes.
Your doctor will check for a lentigo maligna, which looks like an age spot but is actually a warning sign for melanoma . A lentigo maligna can grow in an age spot you already have. It is important to see your dermatologist regularly to monitor age spots.
Why Do Freckles Form On Body Areas Not Exposed To The Sun
True freckles almost never occur on covered skin and pose essentially no health risk at all. They are all absolutely harmless. They are not cancerous and generally do not become cancerous. A rare skin finding called axillary freckling is occasionally seen in a rare inherited disease called neurofibromatosis. These freckles are quite different in appearance from the common variety in both their appearance and distribution.
Anyone who has one or more uncertain pigmented spots should have their dermatologist evaluate them. Even verbal descriptions and photographs cannot convey enough information for satisfactory self-diagnosis. As always, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a full-body skin examination for adults as part of a routine annual health exam. It is important to have any new, changing, bleeding mole or growth examined by your physician or dermatologist as soon as possible. Skin cancers are curable if diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
Where To Find Skin Cancer
Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body in people of all ages and skin tones. In people with darker skin tones, melanoma is more likely to develop in areas that arent exposed to the sun, like the palms of the hand and soles of the feet. Skin cancer can be found under the nails, usually noticeable as a dark line. However, most skin cancer develops on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, and these are the areas you should be especially vigilant about in both prevention and detection. These parts of the body include the face, ears, scalp, neck, chest, shoulders, arms, legs and torso .
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