02 Jun What’s This Spot?
A suspicious spot or any other skin condition is often the catalyst for patients to first visit a dermatologist. Spectrum Dermatology offers diagnoses and treatments for a wide variety of skin conditions ranging from moles and lesions to warts, age spots, rashes, and cancer. Our skin is regularly exposed to dangerous UV rays—often without proper sunscreen protection—and as the largest organ of our body it’s important to take care of it. Avoid “self-diagnosis” with Google searches and instead depend on a dermatologist to provide you with a diagnosis and treatment options. Virtual dermatology consultations are available at our clinic and help you find out exactly what that spot is from the comfort of your home.
Most people have at least one mole. A mole is a type of hyperpigmentation that occurs when the melanocytes (a type of skin cell) produces vast amounts of pigment in a specific area instead of spreading it around evenly throughout the skin. Moles tend to get darker with sun exposure, as adolescents, and during pregnancy. Most moles are perfectly harmless, although there are options to remove moles for aesthetic reasons. If a mole is suspicious and doesn’t follow the ABCDEs of healthy moles, it may be a sign of skin cancer. If you notice any strange mole or rapidly changing mole, it’s important to schedule a consultation with a dermatologist immediately.
Types of “Spots”
A wart is a common and harmless skin growth that looks like a rough bump. They can happen anywhere on the body and might be confused with a blister that doesn’t go away. Warts are caused by a type of HPV (human papillomavirus) and there are various types of warts. For example, palmar warts are exclusively found on the hand while plantar warts are on the feet. Up to 33 percent of children and teens will get warts, but only 3 – 5 percent of adults get them due to these individuals having a stronger immune system. Warts are highly contagious and often go away on their own, but many people prefer immediate removal for aesthetic reasons. Your dermatologist will recommend the best treatment, which could range from lasers to surgery or medical-grade ointments.
Age spots are another common type of hyperpigmentation and they aren’t as concentrated or as dark as moles. They’re usually flat, brown or gray in color, and are most often found in areas that are regularly exposed to the sun. Also known as liver spots or sun spots, age spots are caused by excessive and/or continuous UV exposure without proper protection. Age spots can start appearing at any time but are most common in those with fair skin, over the age of 40, and who have a history of unprotected sun exposure. Most age spots are harmless, but treatments such as chemical peels and laser skin rejuvenation can lighten or remove them for cosmetic reasons. However, sometimes what you think is an age spot is actually an early sign of cancer. This is another reason why it’s important to schedule annual “skin checks” with your dermatologist or schedule a consultation any time you’re not sure what a spot is.
Treating Your Skin Right
Rashes usually don’t present as “spots” unless they’re hives. A rash isn’t a specific condition, but rather a symptom characterized by red, itchy, and swollen skin. Sometimes rashes are severe enough to cause blisters and raw skin. Rashes are a symptom of various diseases and are most often caused by an allergic reaction. Whether it’s poison ivy, a reaction to a medication, or sensitivity to a laundry detergent or soap, a rash is your skin’s way of telling you something’s wrong. Allergies can also change and develop as we age, so it’s feasible to “suddenly” be allergic to something that you’ve been exposed to multiple times in the past.
Finally, it’s possible that a spot might be skin cancer. It’s often everyone’s first thought and it’s critical to see a dermatologist if you have a strange spot, but bear in mind that there are many explanations for your “spot.” Get a diagnosis and treatment plan started by calling Spectrum Dermatology at (480) 948-8400.