Aging & Benign Growths

Over time our skin cells degenerate and decreases in the firmness and elasticity of the skin are noted. We also acquire discolored spots on our skin. We will discuss briefly three common growths that we acquire on our skin with more birthdays: solar lentigos, seborrheic keratoses, and angiomas.

SOLAR LENTIGOS

Solar lentigos are tan, brown or dark black flat spots on sun exposed areas of the body such as face, neck, chest, ears, arms, hands and back. Sometimes they are round or oval in appearance, but they can also be irregularly shaped. Their prevalence is more common in lighter skin types and their incidence increases with advancing age with many people having them by age 60. Some people when they have them on the back of their hands refer to them as liver spots.

Solar lentigos are due to an accumulation of melanin in skin cells in response to chronic sun exposure.

It is possible for a lentigos to have malignant changes called a lentigo maligna.

Yes! An irregular brown spot on your skin should always be evaluated by your dermatologist.

Most people leave these alone. Treatment options include liquid nitrogen and laser

SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES

Seborrheic keratoses are incredibly common. Their appearance is rather variable, however, classically they are brown stuck on bumps with rough, bumpy texture. Frequently, it looks like you could just scratch them off with your fingernail. But we advise you don’t as they will bleed and you will risk an infection from having the open wound. Seborrheic keratosis can also be all shades of brown, tan, pink, skin-colored, white, black and even have multiple within one lesion. Their size varies from a tiny pinpoint bump to a large plaque measuring several centimeters. They can grow and enlarge, however, not all of them do. They occur only on areas of our skin that we have hair and do not occur on palms and soles or mouth. Most of us have them by our 40’s and we continue to acquire them as we advance through life. I have a special name for these because of that reason. I call them “Wisdom Spots”.

The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown.

No. They are benign. However, you can get a skin cancer next to a seborrheic keratosis. So if any of your spots change, make an appointment to see your dermatologist.

Sometimes they can become irritated or itchy and even bleed. They can also get caught on clothing, jewelry, etc. Sometimes they can become infected.

They are benign and healthy growths and can be challenging to get rid of so many people opt to just keep them. Treatments do not prevent new ones from occurring and sometimes the lesions return after treatment. They can be treated with cryotherapy, CO2 or erbium:YAG lasers, cautery.

SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES

These are those red dots that appear out of nowhere on your skin. Most common locations are on the abdomen, but they can occur anywhere on the body. They vary in size from tiny pinpoint spots to large red and sometimes purple / black spots.

It is not known at this time.

Yes, when they are deeper under the skin they can appear almost black. They can then be confused with a black mole that can sometimes be melanoma. Sometimes melanoma can be a red spot so if you have a red or black spot you aren’t sure about, have it evaluated!

Most people opt to leave these alone as they are most commonly in areas where skin is covered by clothing. Most common treatment options are to destroy them with electrocautery or with pulsed dye laser.

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