Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are:
source: skin cancer foundation
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments; some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.
A cyst is a fluid-filled lump that forms in the deeper layers of skin when a hair follicle becomes blocked. They can be uncomfortable and unsightly but are harmless (benign). Nevertheless, any suspicious growth on the skin should be examined by a dermatologist to determine whether it is cancerous. If infected, a cyst may require treatment with antibiotics. Patients with large or painful cysts may choose to undergo minor surgery. Cysts can occur anywhere on the body but commonly appear on the face and scalp, trunk and fingernails. They include acne whiteheads and comedones, milia, and dermoid, epidermal, trichilemmal and pilar cysts.
Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular lesions, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional immediately:
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient’s skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.
To learn more about our Surgical Dermatology treatments, please call 847-675-9711 today to schedule a consultation.