Just for Mom: Spots, Wrinkles & Skin Tags — Oh My!

In the “Just for Mom” category, I’ll be talking about women’s health issues and other things that we moms need to know about to take better care of ourselves. I hope you’ll stop by often!

Over time, skin suffers from wear and tear, and wrinkles, spots and growths begin to appear. While we may not be thrilled about these changes, it is reassuring to know that most of them aren’t anything to worry about.

Using sunscreen regularly can help hold some of them, such as age spots, at bay. But some just come with (ahem) the years.  The good folks at the Mayo Clinic Health Letter explain some of these normal changes and possible treatment options.

Harmless growths include:

°         Age or liver spots. These flat, brown areas, also called solar lentigos, typically occur on the hands, back and face. Using a topical retinoid cream — often in conjunction with bleaching cream and a mild topical steroid — may gradually fade an age spot.

°         Skin tags. These flesh-colored growths protrude from the skin, often on a stalk. They’re often found on the neck or in the armpits. A doctor can remove them with surgical scissors, an electrical device or liquid nitrogen.

°         Cherry angiomas. These small, smooth, cherry-red spots are commonly found on the torso. They range from pinhead size to ¼ inch across. They can be removed with a laser, liquid nitrogen or an electrical device.

°         Seborrheic keratoses. These brown, black or pale growths look waxy, as if they were dripped on the skin by a candle. They usually appear on the face, chest, shoulders and back, often in multiples. Their size ranges from ¼ inch to 1 inch across. They can be removed with a simple surgical procedure or with liquid nitrogen.

The cost of removing any of these harmless spots — considered cosmetic procedures — may not be covered by insurance.

Not all skin spots are harmless, of course. Skin cancer can look similar to a harmless spot or growth. Any spots that bleed and don’t heal should be examined by a doctor. Other symptoms to share with your doctor include itchiness, pain or a changing outline, color or appearance.

The folks at the Mayo Clinic Health Letter are offering a free trial issue. Check out this terrific publication. And thanks to the National Institutes of Health for the illustration.

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