During my dermatology elective, I encountered countless patients who were concerned about growths on their skin that were, in fact, harmless and very common. There are thousands of lesions that can appear on the skin, but here I will discuss a few of of the most commonly seen benign skin spots and growths. I will also discuss what kind of changes to be cautious of when examining growths and moles. When in doubt, consult with your dermatologist.
1. Freckles (“Ephelides”): these small, flat light-brown spots are small, multiple, and irregularly shaped. They appear in childhood, darken during the summer months, and lighten during the winter months (waxing and waning in response to sun exposure). They are due to a local, superficial accumulation of melanin, the protein the gives pigment to our skin and protects us from the sun. They are more common in lighter-skinned individuals who sunburn more easily. Sometimes these fade with age. The best way to avoid new freckles is by good sunprotection.
Continue reading “Benign Skin Growths and Spots”
Summer is upon us, and that means fun in the sun! Let’s remember to be safe and smart, taking measures to prevent sunburn in the short-term, and skin cancer, premature aging, and unsightly discoloration in the long-term.
Everyone, regardless of skin tone, is susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. People with lighter skin types who burn easily should be especially cautious.
Ultraviolent (UV) radiation (290 to 400 nm) causes skin damage. Within that spectrum, UVB (290 to 320 nm) is responsible for sunburn (“B” for “burn”), inflammation, skin discoloration, and cancer formation. UVA (320 to 400 nm) is responsible for photoaging (“A” for “aging”), skin darkening, and possibly cancer formation.
The UV Index, on a scale of 0-11, is a forecast of how risky the sun exposure is that day, and is calculated by zipcode here or here. Read this or this to learn how to interpret the UV index.
To protect your skin against UV radiation:
A) Avoid the sun during peak hours: stay inside or seek shade between 11 am and 3pm. This is especially important at latitudes closer to the equator.
B) Wear sun protective clothing: Continue reading “Sunprotection”