The largest organ of our body is the skin, which contributes to approximately 15% of our weight.
The skin can bring about a large number of skin diseases and conditions. The importance of proper skin care and annual screenings are essential in identifying areas which could potentially be life threatening. There are common disorders of the skin that are seen on a routine basis such as rashes, bruises, dry skin, acne, fungus, eczema, seborrheic keratoses, and moles just to name a few. The moles are particularly concerning due to the potential of becoming malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma is the most common cancer in the United States – and the deadliest.
It is becoming more prevalent in the younger population and this diagnosis has tripled in the last 30 years when other cancers have declined. In 2020, The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 100,350 new cases of melanoma diagnoses and of those diagnoses, 6,850 will die. These numbers are growing each year. The key is diagnosing this early. If caught early, it is easily curable.
Knowing the ABCDE’s of the moles are important in identifying these dangerous lesions:
- Asymmetry – uneven appearance
- Border – irregular
- Color – multiple colors
- Diameter – larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolution – gotten bigger in size and thickness
Also, identifying a lesion as an “Ugly Duckling” can be beneficial.
Most people have moles that are absolutely harmless
and have been there for years.
The dangerous moles that look different from the others should be brought to attention and evaluated quickly.
Asking your provider to provide a skin exam is an important screening tool as they may be able to identify areas where it is hard for the patient to examine such as the back of the legs, the back, and the buttocks. There are many skin conditions that can be treated in the office with the use of Liquid Nitrogen (freezing), snip excisions (skin tags), and simple skin biopsies.
A seborrheic keratosis is often called a “wisdom spot” that has the appearance of a waxy stuck-on lesion. These are harmless lesions that are often seen in the office and can be treated with Liquid nitrogen.
Protecting the skin from UV exposure is very important not only in the Summer but in all seasons. The use of sunscreen is essential for both the female and male. Hydration helps maintain the moisture balance that skin can lose especially during the winter months.