What is skin changes?

Skin Changes
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Skin changes: Overview

Common skin changes

Most skin changes are normal and occur with aging. Some common skin growths include:

Moles.

Most moles are harmless. They may change over time. They can gradually get bigger, develop a hair, become more raised, get lighter in color, fade away, or fall off.

Skin tags.

These are harmless growths that appear in the skin folds on the neck, under the arms, under the breasts, or in the groin. They start as small fleshy brown spots and may grow a small stalk.

Seborrheic keratoses.

These skin growths are almost always harmless. They are found most often on the chest or back. Sometimes they're on the scalp, face, or neck. They start as slightly raised tan spots that form a crusty appearance like a wart.

Birthmarks.

Birthmarks are colored marks on the skin that are there at birth or appear shortly after birth. Most birthmarks are harmless and don't need treatment. Many birthmarks change, grow, shrink, or disappear.

Treatment of a skin change depends on what's causing the skin change and what other symptoms you have. Moles, skin tags, and other growths can be removed if they get irritated, bleed, or bother you.

Causes of skin changes

Causes of skin changes may include:

Hormones.

Acne is a common skin change that occurs during the teen years and may last into adulthood.

Melasma is a skin change in which a person develops patches of skin that are darker than the nearby skin. It can be caused by many things, including hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause.

Sun exposure.

Actinic keratosis and actinic lentigines are types of colored skin spots that are caused by too much sun exposure.

Medicines.

You may have an allergic reaction to a medicine that causes a skin change. Or you may get a skin reaction when you are out in the sun while you are taking a medicine. (This is called photosensitivity.) Rashes, hives, and itching may occur.

Infections.

Bacterial skin infections, such as impetigo and cellulitis.

Fungal infections, such as ringworm, athlete's foot, and vaginal yeast infections.

Viral infections, such as chickenpox, shingles, and fifth disease.

Diseases.

Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and scleroderma.

Hepatitis, which may cause your skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow (jaundice).

Lyme disease, which causes reactions from a tick bite.

Skin cancer, which may start as a new skin growth, a change in a growth or mole, or a sore that doesn't heal.

Treating skin changes at home

Many spots, skin growths, or moles are harmless and don't need treatment. But if you saw a doctor for your skin problem, be sure to carefully follow any instructions you were given.

If you don't have instructions from your doctor, the following steps may help.

  • Keep the area clean and dry.
    • Wash with a gentle skin cleanser and warm (not hot) water. Don't scrub.
    • Shower after you swim or use a hot tub. It will rinse off chlorine or salt water. Use a moisturizer after you shower.
  • Avoid irritating the area.
    • Don't squeeze, scratch, or pick at the area.
    • Leave the area exposed to the air whenever you can.
    • Adjust your clothing to avoid rubbing the bump or spot. Or you can cover it with a bandage.
  • Think about covering a mole or birthmark if you don't like how it looks.

    If you are worried about how a skin change looks, try using cosmetics that are made to cover them. Or you may be able to cover the area another way, such as with clothing, a hat, a scarf, or a bandage.

  • Pay attention to your diet.

    Eat a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. And drink plenty of fluids each day.

  • Protect your skin from the sun.
    • Stay out of the midday sun, or find shade when outdoors.
    • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants.
    • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on any exposed skin.
    • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.