Posts for: March, 2022
By Mid Atlantic Dermatology & Laser Center
March 28, 2022
Category: Skin Treatments
Do you have a birthmark? Chances are pretty good you do. After all, most people do. Birthmarks come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and can develop anywhere on the body. While these markings typically aren’t anything to worry about, you may wish to see a dermatologist about your birthmark if it negatively impacts your appearance or begins to change appearance.
Most Birthmarks are Harmless
As we mentioned before, most birthmarks won’t cause you any harm or affect the health of your skin. Of course, some birthmarks could potentially cause complications and should be monitored by a dermatologist. For example, a strawberry mark can sometimes evolve into an open wound and become infected. If you’ve been told that your birthmark is a melanocytic nevus, then this is something that should be monitored regularly to make sure that it doesn’t develop into cancer later in life.
Treating a Birthmark
If you are feeling a bit self-conscious about your birthmark you’ll be happy to hear that many of them will fade over time. Of course, you may want to talk with your dermatologist about birthmark removal options if the birthmark you have could potentially cause some health risks for you or if your birthmark embarrasses you.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a dermatologist who can assess whether the benefits of having your birthmark removed outweigh the cons. For example, birthmarks that could potentially affect vision or hearing should be removed. Some removal methods include:
- Corticosteroids: injections or oral steroids can stop the birthmark from growing and can shrink it
- Interferon alfa-12: this can also shrink the birthmark (particularly if corticosteroids do not work effectively)
- Laser therapy: can be used on certain birthmarks like port wine stains
Surgery may be necessary only if these other treatment options haven’t provided the proper results or if the birthmark is causing other health issues. The type of treatment you need will depend on your health, the type and location of your birthmark, and whether it’s causing any complications.
Whether you want to find out if you should have a birthmark removed or you just want to schedule a skin cancer screening, a dermatologist can help you make important decisions regarding treatment options and your skin health.
By Mid Atlantic Dermatology & Laser Center
March 10, 2022
Category: Skin Condition
Educating the public on skin cancer is incredibly important. After all, you’re the one that looks at your skin every day, so you should know how to spot early warning signs of skin cancer. While there are certain risk factors that can increase your risk for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, it’s important for everyone to visit a dermatologist once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. In the meantime, here’s what to look out for.
What is an irregular or atypical mole?
Medically referred to as dysplastic nevi, these irregular moles are benign but having them could put you at an increased risk for developing melanoma over your lifetime. These moles can develop anywhere on the body but are most often found on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Since these moles vary greatly in appearance it’s important to monitor your moles regularly so you can recognize when unusual changes are occurring and call your dermatologist.
What does an irregular mole look like?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offers a simple ABCDE guideline to follow to be able to spot unusual or suspicious changes in a mole. Here’s what the ABCDEs stand for:
Asymmetry: when the halves of the moles don’t match each other in shape or appearance this could be a sign of a cancerous mole
Border: a jagged, irregular, or scalloped border can be a sign of melanoma
Color: if a mole has multiple colors or changes color this is also a warning sign not to ignore
Diameter: melanoma is often larger than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser), even though they can be smaller
Evolving: healthy moles stay relatively the same over the years so if your mole bleeds, crusts over, itches, or changes appearance you should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist
When should I see a dermatologist?
If you have any concerns about a mole don’t hesitate to call your dermatologist to have it checked out. The sooner melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are detected and removed the better. Of course, everyone can benefit from visiting a dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. You should also be performing self-exams once a month to keep track of your moles.
If you have an irregular mole or a mole that’s changing in appearance, it’s best to play it safe and schedule an evaluation with a dermatologist who can examine the mole to make sure it hasn’t turned cancerous.