Is it Hyperpigmentation or Melanoma?

Is it Hyperpigmentation or Melanoma?

Noticing a brown or black spot on your skin that wasn’t there before can be scary. Sometimes, these spots are nothing more than hyperpigmentation, a common and harmless—but somewhat alarming—condition where small sections or patches of your skin take on a darker color than the rest of your skin. Hyperpigmentation is nothing more than concentrated deposits of melanin, which can collect randomly in one spot (or several spots) on your skin.

Unfortunately, the harmlessness of hyperpigmentation sometimes leads individuals who have the condition to ignore dark spots on their skin. If these spots are just concentrations of melanin, you really don’t have to pay much attention to them. However, one symptom of melanoma—the most severe and dangerous type of skin cancer—is brown or black spots or moles on the skin. Without careful attention to detail or medical consultation, it’s easy to mistake melanoma for simply hyperpigmentation (and vice versa).

The Differences Between Hyperpigmentation and Melanoma

Fortunately, there are subtle differences in moles or spots caused by hyperpigmentation and moles or spots. These differences fall into five different categories, which are easy to remember because they bear the initials of ABCDE. In assessing moles or dark spots, these initials refer to asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and elevation. Read on to discover more about the signs in each of these categories that can indicate melanoma rather than hyperpigmentation.

  • Asymmetry: Generally, hyperpigmentation patches (be they freckles, moles, or simple dark spots on your skin) are symmetrical in shape and size. A noticeably asymmetrical dark spot on your skin is worth consulting a doctor about, as it may be a sign of cancer.
  • Border: In addition to symmetry, dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation will have smooth edges that are easy to distinguish. Spots or moles with more jagged or irregular borders are more likely to be cancerous.
  • Color: In hyperpigmentation, melanin deposits can range from light to dark brown. Spots or moles that are black or rusty red in color appear more commonly in melanoma patients. With that said, melanoma spots can also be a more regular brown hue, so use color as a supplement to other identifying factors, instead of using it as your sole decider.
  • Diameter: Moles or dark spots with large diameters—or with diameters that seem to be expanding—are cause for alarm. Most dermatologists say that any skin spots bigger in diameter than a pencil eraser are worth having checked out by a medical professional.
  • Elevation: When it comes to assessing whether moles or spots are hyperpigmentation or melanoma, flatter is better. While some harmless moles are slightly raised, extremely elevated moles are often a sign of a more dangerous skin condition.

All of these factors can help you to determine, on your own, whether the dark spots on your skin are more likely to be the result of hyperpigmentation or melanoma. If you have a mole that is small, with a smooth border, symmetrical, flat, and light brown, chances are pretty good that you don’t have any reason for concern. When in doubt, though, consult your physician. It is invariably better to be safe than sorry when it comes to possible signs of skin cancer.

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Which is Better for Scars: Silicone Creams or Silicone Sheets?

Which is Better for Scars: Silicone Creams or Silicone Sheets?

There are endless treatments for scars – lotions and gels, ointments and injections. They’re stuffed into pharmacy aisles and online inventories alike, promising fast results and easy healing. However, two of these treatments manage to keep those promises.

Silicone creams and silicone sheets counter the effects of scarring. They both relieve inflammation while also decreasing rigidity and improving elasticity. They also both deliver concentrated polymers to the skin, improving its appearance, texture, and collagen responses. This makes them ideal for treatment – but which is best?

What is Silicone’s Effect on Scars?

Silicone proves essential in the healing process. It infuses the skin with key amines (organic nitrogen-based compounds) to maintain proper hydration and oxygenation levels. It also interrupts the body’s excessive collagen composition, stabilizing levels to reduce the build-up of tissue. This ensures that scars heal quickly and minimizes their overall appearance.

Read More: Scar Healing

What is Silicone Cream?

Silicone cream, as its name suggests, is a spreadable topical formulation fortified with silicone. It allows for direct skin contact, with individuals applying it to their scar sites. This introduces amines into the body and expedites healing.

Read More: Silicone Creams

What is a Silicone Sheet?

A silicone sheet is an adhesive product. It’s a two-sided design similar to a bandage that combines a latex shell with silicone gel padding. This padding rests against the scar and delivers steady nutrients throughout the day. It’s typically reusable.

Read More: Silicone Sheets

Which is Best: Silicone Creams or Silicone Sheets

The effectiveness of silicone creams and sheets are undeniable. Both products, according to studies conducted by Dr. Thomas A. Mustoe, a member of the Feinberg School of Medicine, promote accelerated healing within the body and reduce the effects of scarring. They’re useful against keloids, hypertrophic scars, contractures, and more. However, one does offer distinct advantages over the other.

Silicone creams are more efficient for daily use. Their lightweight formulas absorb directly into the skin, rather than requiring adhesives (which can roll, twist, or come undone.) Cream is easily used with other topical options such as sun block, make-up, moisturizers, or cleansers, and they’re undetectable. It’s also easily applied to facial areas, where sheets often prove cumbersome. These benefits make them ideal for the treatment of new and old scars alike.

Read More: New and Old Scars

Consult With a Physician

Silicone creams offer the same advantages as silicone sheets, but are much easier to use. Some individuals, however, may require more extensive procedures to treat their scars – such as dermabrasion, micro-needling, chemical peels, facial revisions, and more. Be sure to consult with a physician if you have a very complex scar.

Read More: Scar Treatments

Silicone scar products are the gold standard in scar therapy. This makes them perfect for treating inflammation, rigidity, and more.

Have a question about silicone creams, sheets, or other options? Leave us a comment! We’ll be happy to provide more information. Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered to your inbox.

Wound Stapled, Stitched or Glued? Here’s the Type of Scar You Can Expect

Wound Stapled, Stitched or Glued? Here’s the Type of Scar You Can Expect

After surgery or a deep wound, your doctor will close the wound with sutures (stitches), glue, staples, or a combination of these. Securing the edges of the wound together is crucial for healing, but the type of skin closure can impact the appearance of the final scar. Depending on the way your doctor closed the wound, here’s the type of scar you can expect:

Staples

A staple incision closure is more consistent and faster than stitches. Surgical staples are disposable and are made of plastic or stainless steel. The problem with most skin staples is that they can leave permanent marks on the skin that create a “train track” look.

Sutures

Sutures are the most common way to close wounds, including incisions after surgery. The doctor basically sews the skin edges back together. Sutures can be permanent or absorbable. If permanent sutures are used to close the top skin layer, these need to be removed once the skin has healed. Absorbable sutures dissolve on their own over time once the tissues have healed and don’t need to be removed. Large sutures that are left in the skin for too long can lead to scars that look like stitching.

Glue

Smaller wounds that are not very deep may be put back together using special adhesive glue. This works similar to stitches and staples in that it secures the skin edges back together to promote the healing of the wound or incision. Skin glue does not leave “train track” or “stitch” marks.

Most Important Factors for the Best Scar

Whether you have staples, stitches, or just glue to help your wound heal, there are a few shared factors that promote the best looking scar. First and foremost, you want to be sure that the wound edges are lined up anatomically. Your doctor should ensure that the two layers of skin properly line up with one another. This helps the skin to heal more seamlessly, rather than looking jagged.
The depth and length of the injury, as well as the location, also affect the appearance of the scar. Certain lifestyle and genetic factors, including gender, race and age, also influence scarring. To promote healing and have the best looking scar, care for the wound correctly, eat healthily, drink plenty of water, and don’t smoke. Follow your doctor’s orders, which typically include keeping the area clean, covered, out of the sun, and moist to promote healing.

Once the wound has healed, ask your doctor if you are ready to start using a topical scar treatment to reduce the long-term appearance of your scar as much as possible.

Have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Do Over the Counter Scar Treatments Really Work?

Do Over the Counter Scar Treatments Really Work?

There are so many different types of over the counter scar treatments that it can be difficult to know whether or not they actually work. The ingredients of the treatments play a significant role in their effectiveness. The right ingredients, especially in the right combination, will facilitate the natural healing process, reducing the appearance of the scar, while other ingredients may not work, or even cause more damage.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is commonly found in skin care ingredients since it is a powerful antioxidant that promotes beautiful skin. However, there is no real evidence that using vitamin E actually improves the scar. Instead, the benefits are most likely due to continued moistening of the area, rather than the infusion of the vitamin. Many people also develop contact dermatitis from vitamin E, so it is another ingredient to avoid.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant, and it plays an important role in the body’s healthy immune response, which includes wound healing. Furthermore, it is essential for proper formation of collagen and elastin in skin, which helps build healthy skin cells, rather than damaged scar tissue, after the skin is injured. Vitamin C also fades the hyperpigmentation that can come with scarring. Therefore, it is an effective and safe ingredient in an over the counter scar treatment.

Silicone

Silicone is another ingredient that has been shown in studies to aid in the treatment of scars, while not promoting any danger. It reduces any redness, pain and itching associated with the scarring, while also improving the elasticity of the skin.

Aloe Vera

Another beneficial, and effective, ingredient for over the counter scar treatment creams is aloe vera. This plant has long been used in cosmetics and first aid creams due to its moisturizing and healing effects. It protects the wound while also promoting healing, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the collagen structure.

Hydroquinone

Many popular over the counter scar treatment creams contain hydroquinone, and it has a reputation for effectively lightening scars. However, it is a very dangerous ingredient that has been banned in several countries. Even in the smaller doses found in over the counter creams, it can lead to problems such as impaired wound healing, irritation, nail discoloration, and ochronosis (permanent skin darkening).

Kojic Acid

Another seemingly effective scar treatment ingredient that is commonly found in over the counter creams is kojic acid. Like hydroquinone, it may work, but the negative effects are not worth its lightening abilities. Studies have found that prolonged use leads to more sensitive skin and contact dermatitis. It also is not effective at improving the appearance of scars, beyond lightening the skin color.

When OTC Treatments Do Not Work

If you have a keloid, indented scar, or certain other scars, then over the counter treatments will not work. These scars require more invasive treatments, such as laser therapy, collagen injections, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, dermabrasion, or microneedling. If you are unsure about the best form of treatment for your scar, then you should discuss it with your dermatologist.

When looking for an effective over the counter scar treatment, you should look for all natural ingredients that do not include preservatives or fragrances, as this could also aggravate the skin. You do not want to use any harsh ingredients; instead, you want to support your skin’s natural healing process, which will reduce the appearance of any scars.

Have a question about your scar or a particular ingredient? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Scars Heal Differently. Here’s Why

Scars Heal Differently. Here’s Why

After the skin becomes injured, scar tissue forms as a part of the natural healing process. This tissue looks and feels different than normal skin tissue because there is excess collagen produced. Different scars also appear different and heal differently based upon the amount of collagen produced during the healing process. Lifestyle, genetics, age, depth and size of the injury, the location, and the treatment of the wound all affect how the scar heals.

Read: Scar Tissue is Different Than Normal Tissue 

Genetic and Lifestyle Influences on Scar Healing

As with any body function, your genetics, which include your ethnicity and gender, influence how your body heals from injury, which is why each person scars differently. These genetic influences cannot be changed, but they can be mitigated through lifestyle changes and certain treatments. Your age will affect scarring as well, because your ability to regenerate cells and heal is reduced.

Lifestyle factors, including exercising, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy diet, influence your skin’s natural healing process as well. To heal properly, you need to be strong and healthy. Your skin also needs certain nutrients that it can get from food, especially vitamin C and E. You skin also needs plenty of moisture to heal correctly, which is why keeping your scar moisturized is vital. You should also keep active, as long as it does not disturb your wound and your doctor approves it, to promote healing.

The Affect of Wound Treatment

Because scars are caused by injury to the skin, the element that has the greatest influence on its healing process is the treatment of the wound. When you experience a deep cut, including an incision from surgery, the skin needs to be aligned correctly when it is glued, stapled, or stitched back together, or else it will have a larger scar. Your scar will look different whether you have staples, glue, or stitches as well. If the injured skin is brought back together perfectly, then the chance of scarring is reduced, although you may still have a small, almost invisible line. You also want to allow the area to heal completely, and not reopen the wound or get it infected, as this will increase the chance of a larger scar.

How the Type of Scar Alters the Healing Process

There are different types of scars that affect the ability for the scar to heal over time. You may have a hypertrophic scar, acne scar, contracture scar, or keloid scars. Keloid scars are the most difficult to heal, because they are raised scars due to excess collagen that extend beyond the original injury. Contracture scars typically occur after a burn, and they often tighten the skin and can make it difficult to move. Hypertrophoic scars are also raised, similar to keloids, but remain within the area of the wound. Some of these different types of scars occur because of the type of wound, while others form due to genetics, the environment, or other factors.

Read: Scar Healing Time

There is no real way to predict how a scar will heal, as it is highly influenced by genetics, environment, lifestyle factors, and treatment. Regardless of the type of scar, you can help it heal by taking care of the wound, eating a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water.

Do you have a question about your scar? Leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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