Many common skin lesions are non-cancerous, or benign. Some of these conditions include freckles, moles, seborrheic keratosis, and skin tags. However, some of these skin lesions may not be so innocent.
What You Should Look For
There are three primary kinds of skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Each one has several different appearances, so it is very important to look for early warning signs, especially for sudden changes. It is not wise to ignore a suspicious-looking spot just because it is not painful. Some skin cancers are painless, but still dangerous. If you notice or suspect one or more of the following warning signs, call your dermatologist and schedule an appointment right away.
When to See Your Dermatologist
Make an appointment to see your dermatologist if you have an irregular or irritated skin growth, which may include the following:
- Change in skin growth or moles, such as a variation in color, shape, or size.
- Pearly, firm bump that has tiny, spidery blood vessels.
- A bump that is itching or bleeding, crusting over, and then repeating the cycle and still hasn’t healed in 2-3 weeks.
- Tender, flat, red spot that easily bleeds.
- A patch of normal skin that quickly changes in appearance.
- Area of skin, particularly on the face, that’s firm to the touch and looks somewhat like a scar.
- Shiny, smooth bump that looks like a cyst or mole.
- Fleshy, small bump that has a pearly, smooth appearance, usually with a depressed center.
Approximately 90 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers are linked to UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the harsh rays of the sun. Skin experts recommend using a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 or higher as just one way to protect yourself from the sun. However, sunscreen alone isn’t enough. Here are some other important tips to follow to prevent skin cancer.
- Don’t let your skin burn.
- Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day.
- Avoid tanning booths.
- Use a UVA/UVB (broad spectrum) sunscreen that has an SPF 30 or higher daily.
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses in addition to clothing that adequately covers your body, including wearing a hat with a broad brim.
- Before going outside, apply one ounce of sunscreen to your body at least 30 minutes in advance.
- See your healthcare practitioner for a standard skin exam once a year.
- Examine every inch of your skin from head-to-toe once a month.
If you suspect that a spot on your skin looks suspicious or is changing in appearance, don’t delay seeing an expert dermatologist. If you notice any changes in an existing freckle, mole, or certain area on your skin or find a new spot with one or any of the warning signs, it could, in fact, be skin cancer. Early treatment is the key to maintaining your good health.
At Steele Creek Dermatology, our highly trained staff of dermatologists can evaluate, diagnose and offer treatment options for a variety of skin concerns. Contact Steele Creek Dermatology today to schedule your consultation.