Ever since the days of puberty when you began developing pimples, you’ve probably taken notice of every change to your skin. A freckle here and a mole there are all fine and good, but what about that weird, crusty bump that seems to have come from out of nowhere?
Your skin can have all sorts of changes as you age, and some of those changes can be unsightly or worrisome. If you find yourself a subject of @drpimplepopper, you know you’ve hit next level. You already know you should keep an eye out for strange-looking moles that could be cancerous, but you might not know what to do about other growths.
Here are a few weird things you might find on your skin and what you should do about them.
Wherever you may find warts, you probably aren’t excited to see any of them. The good news is that warts are usually treatable, so you don’t have to live with them for long. Warts are the result of a virus and can show up on the hands, feet, face or even genitals. They can be rough or smooth; gray, brown or with a black dot; or long and narrow. Warts can spread, so talk to your doctor about treatment options like freezing, patches or lasers. My daughter had a wart that was so large on the palm of her hand, we had to resort to a combination of a salicylic acid-based prescription medication, freezing and beetle juice.
An extra piece of skin hanging off your body is not an exciting development, but it is pretty harmless. Skin tags are often found on the neck, arms, chest and groin — possibly due to friction in these areas. If skin tags are in a place where they can get caught on clothing and become painful, you can talk to your doctor about taking them off.
“Skin growths like tags are more common as people age,” says Sarah Hilton, a registered nurse and director of healthcare advisory services at Osmond Marketing. “It might be distressing to see a new growth on your body, but skin tags are usually nothing to worry about unless you do not like their appearance.”
The warty, scaly appearance of these skin growths can cause some concern, but seborrheic keratoses are nothing to worry about. They are found most often on the torso or temples, and they can range from quite small to several inches in size. These growths do not have to be treated, but they can be taken off by freezing or using an electric needle if desired.
As you age, it is quite likely that you will find a cherry angioma or two somewhere on your body. These bright red spots can appear in adulthood and are more likely among older individuals. Like many other skin growths, they can be treated with lasers, but you don’t need to do anything about them.
A new lump under the skin might send you running for the doctor’s office, but a lipoma is no cause for alarm. These rubbery lumps can be moved around under the skin and grow slowly if at all. Although lipomas are not cancerous, your doctor might want to check it out just to be sure.
An actinic keratosis is not cancerous, but it is one growth you need to keep an eye on. These rough, scaly patches are caused by UV exposure, and a small number of them could become cancerous. They show up on sun-exposed skin and can be pink, red or brown, and may itch. You can help prevent them by wearing sunscreen and limiting sun exposure. These growths can be treated with medication or removed by your doctor to keep them from developing into skin cancer.
Skin growths can be disconcerting, but most of the time they end up being more of a cosmetic issue than a health concern. Even so, if you find something that worries you or is just plain hard to look at, talk to your doctor.