Besides changes to the skin structure itself, there are a number of growths and abnormalities that can occur on or in our skin as we age. Many of these growths and abnormalities are not harmful (though some can be a bit uncomfortable if they get irritated, or you might just decide that you do not like the way that they look).
Nevertheless they might also be a signal that something has gone wrong with one or more structures within the skin.
But perhaps the most significant thing you might find concerning about these growths and other abnormalities is how noticeable they are. Besides being departures from the way our skin is supposed to work, growth and abnormalities can be unsightly and ultimately distressing for the person living with them.
Some of the more common growth and abnormalities include the following:
1 ) Seborrheic Keratosis
A Seborrheic Keratosis arises in the epidermis (outer layer of skin) at the basal layer or location where the outer and middle levels of the skin meet. The new cells develop and make their way upward to the skin surface and as time goes on, the cells stack up and cause a raised growth to appear. They often have a “stuck on” look, since their edges are not attached to the rest of the skin. They can also appear “warty” or have a cobblestone pattern on the surface in a variety of colors ranging from colorless to tan, to multiple shades of brown, and darker black in color which can be confused with melanoma skin cancer.
Though not cancerous, they are a prominent and visible sign of aging and usually develop on a hereditary basis with more and more showing up gradually as the years go by If the growths become itchy or bothersome then they are called an “Irritated Seborrheic Keratosis”. A smaller type of growth called Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra forms brownish-black bumps from 1mm-3mm looks identical to a seborrheic keratosis microscopically so the two of these growths might have some form of connection. Both of these types of lesions can be removed if bothersome by techniques such as burning them off, scraping them off, or other methods
2) Cherry Angiomas
If you happen to notice bright red spots on the skin either individually or scattered in clusters, then there is a very good chance that they are Cherry angiomas. They are composed of blood vessels and can appear as and can vary in size from ¼ of an inch to the size of a pinprick. They that have migrated close to the skin’s surface. They also tend to appear more commonly with age and oftentimes another family member will have a history of these types of growths as well. If you would want these types of growths removed, laser treatment or cauterization with an electric needle works very well.
Telangiectasias are small, noticeable threadlike blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin. Though there are some genetic causes of this abnormality, they are oftentimes associated with rosacea. Based upon their size and location, the vessels respond very well to treatment with vascular lasers and readily clear in 1, 2, or 3 treatments.
4) Senile Pupura
When bothersome and disfiguring bruise marks occur frequently on the arms, they usually represent a condition referred to as senile pupura. The affected areas often begin as dark purple spots that appear especially on sun exposed areas such as the hands or forearms.
They might turn brown with time. Pupura are like small bruises that occur because fragile blood vessels in the skin burst and re-heal. The loss of elastic tissue in aging skin contributes to the vessels breaking instead of stretching
Milia are tiny white or yellow colored bumps that develop on the skin surface. Aging and exposure to the sun seem to promote their occurrence, even though they can appear in the young especially after skin trauma. Because these growths are so superficial you would think that you can easily remove them with your fingers. But the looks can be deceiving since there is really a thin layer of skin on top which has to be punctured in order to get the growth out, so medical assistance is often required.
6) Guttate Hypomelanosis
Guttate Hypmelanosis refers to the appearance of white spots on the skin, particularly on the forearms and shins as well as less frequently the chest, neck, back or even face.. These spots are common in individuals in there 60’s and 70’s, but can start sometimes in individuals 30 or younger. While the true cause of what changes take place to cause the white spots to appear is unknown, some individuals who have spent time in fornt of space heaters, and wood burning stoves are more prone to get this treatment. At this time, there is no effective treatment to remove these spots. This condition is not related to vitiligo.
7) Solar Lentigines (“Sun freckles”)
Solar lentigines are dark lesions that look much like freckles except larger and are very common on the sun exposed areas of the arms, hands, face, and chest. As the name suggests, solar lentigines are caused by exposure to sunlight—more specifically, UV radiation. Though benign, they do signal excessive sun exposure and are a warning sign that regular usage of sun protection products and garments are necessary to prevent further sun damage and possible skin cancer in the future. Laser treatments or sometimes chemical peels or freezing with liquid nitrogen can get these spots to clear.
8) Poikiloderma of Civatte
Poikiloderma of Civatte appears as red, patchy skin that forms a “V” on the neck. The condition is more common in women than men, and much more common in fair skinned individuals. Although the causes of this condition are still unknown, doctors suspect that UV radiation and some chemicals found in perfumes are the main culprits. It is difficult to clear, but sometimes light treatment can help
Well, there you have it. You now know of many of the possible growths that are benign and associated with aging.
If you are bothered with any of these conditions your dermatologist can help you find a solution.