01 Oct What Are These Brown Spots?
“Brown spots” is a term to describe a wide range of skin issues. Seeing dermatological experts like those at Spectrum Dermatology, where both Drs. Thosani and Kim were ranked Top Docs in 2018, is vital in getting a correct diagnosis and designing a treatment (if desired). Brown spots can refer to sun spots, age spots, moles, seborrheic keratosis—and rarely, but sometimes, skin cancer.
What Are They? Brown Spots, Sun Spots, Age Spots, Moles, or Seborrheic Keratosis
Some brown spots are perfectly harmless and even desired. “Beauty marks” such as the moles sported by Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Crawford are simply concentrated spots of melanin that can provide a touch of glitz and glamour. They’re so in-demand that many people draw them on or, in more extreme cases, have them permanently mimicked with a small tattoo. However, sometimes moles can be a red flag for various types of skin cancer. If your dermatologist is concerned, they may recommend removing the mole (or a portion of it) with a small biopsy.
“Healthy” moles have clear, distinct borders, do not grow at an alarming rate, and are one solid color throughout. If you have a mole, desirable or not, don’t worry. The vast majority of moles are harmless. However, everyone should see their dermatologist regularly for a mole check.
Age spots and sun spots look and behave very similarly. Both are concentrated clumps of melanin that form as the skin’s natural defense against UV damage. However, sunspots usually occur in those who have been severely exposed to the sun. This exposure could be ongoing, recent, or decades ago. Age spots occur for the same reason but happen at a more timely point in a person’s life. Most people have been exposed to the sun throughout their life, and most haven’t kept a strict sunscreen regimen since birth. The significant difference between sun spots and age spots is that sunspots appear prematurely. Both can be treated with laser skin therapy, chemical peels, and/or microdermabrasion.
Seborrheic keratosis, or SK, is a type of skin growth that can look somewhat like a wart. It’s usually not very dark, though it’s rough and can be slightly darker than your normal skin. These growths are harmless and happen more often with age. They can be removed, or not, with a number of treatments.
If you have a “brown spot,” put your mind at ease and get it checked by scheduling an appointment online with Spectrum Dermatology, or simply call (480) 948-8400.