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Clean Skin Series Part II: Skin Lesions

“What is this on my skin?”

What Is This On My Skin?

Most of us over the age of thirty-five have something on our skin that we did not have in years past. When they show up we are not really sure. Others remember the exact day they saw that spot in their 7x mirror.  With the increase in skin cancer we all have a small amount of discomfort when something new appears on our skin. Getting it looked at is the first step. Most of the skin growths are nothing to lose sleep over. If it is a skin cancer, early treatment is a much easier course and often curable. I would like to educate you on the most common non-cancerous lesions I see.

Lentigos/Freckles

Lentigos and freckles are caused from sun exposure. Melanocytes (cells containing melanin) are stimulated and cause a pigmented spot.  These spots are always flat and darker than the surrounding skin.  This is sun damage to the skin, and will only appear in sun-exposed areas.

Seborrheic Keratosis

            Seborrheic Keratosis, often called SK’s, show up somewhere after the age of thirty. There is a genetic component, so if your parents or grandparents have many you too will probably grow them. They start out as a light tan discoloration of the skin. They grow. They always grow. They spread out and up. Some SK’s look crusty, like they can be picked off. These are not cancer and will never become cancer. They are very superficial and can easily be taken off, usually with no sign that they were ever there.

Actinic Keratosis

            “ I have this patch of dry skin that used to come and go. Now, it has come and is not going.” This typically is how Actinic Keratosis shows up. You might be able to see a little pink or red area with flaky skin. As they progress they become more scaly and red. They are found in sun-exposed areas. These are non-cancerous at the moment. They are considered pre-cancerous because 10-15% of Actinic Keratosis will progress into Squamous Cell Cancer in 10-15 years. Actinic Keratosis can be treated early. When one appears, it can be assumed that there are others in the early stages. A levulan treatment can treat a known lesion as well as any others that are developing.

Skin Tags/Acrochordons

Skin tags are often found along areas of irritation, neck, underarm, waistline, bra-line etc. They may be flesh colored or pigmented. They are often larger at the top and have a thinner ‘stalk’ attaching them to the body. Skin tags will not go away on their own although treatment is a simple in office procedure.       

Treatments for all of the above skin conditions are available at East Valley Naturopathic Doctors. There are many more non-cancerous lesions that were not described above that can be diagnosed by a Physician.