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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How Do I Fade My Melanoma Scar?

How Do I Fade My Melanoma Scar?

Melanoma is diagnosed about 68,000 times each year in the U.S., and it’s estimated that another 48,000 people have an early form of the disease that only affects the top layer of skin. Each of these people are left with a melanoma scar after treatment.

The word ‘melanoma’ sounds pretty ominous in itself, but it’s called this because the cancer starts in the pigmented cells called melanocytes. The melanocytes are found on any skin surface; thus melanoma can occur anywhere in the body.

Because melanoma is likely to spread to other parts of the body, doctors don’t like to take any chances and will remove not only the entire growth, but also a substantial tissue around it. If the average melanoma is about the size of a pea, that can be a pretty big wound, especially if it’s on the face or other visible part of the body. Doctors at the Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, Germany at the Department of Dermatology report that the currently required safety margins for melanomas lead to extensive and profound wounds.

If you’ve already had melanoma, you have probably been wondering what to do about the melanoma scar, and how to shrink or fade a melanoma scar.

The answer is to use a scar treatments that avoid skin irritants and uses natural ingredients proven to work on reducing the redness and size of the scar. The reason why you want an all-natural formula is because you don’t want to disturb the skin cells that are remaining. By using a chemical that is a known carcinogen or possibly carcinogenic, you weaken the remaining cells and can potentially induce genetic changes within the cell’s DNA.

Cancer occurs in three steps:  initiation, promotion and metastasis. Initiation is where sunlight, chemicals, radiation, viruses or tobacco change the cell’s genetic material. Step 2 is called promotion. This is when cells that have already been altered genetically are changed to form cancer cells by drugs or substances in the environment. Metastasis is where the cancer cells spread throughout the body.

Here’s a shocking fact:  the medical literature is full of case studies where melanoma scars turned cancerous years after the cancer was removed. Finding out that you have cancer not once but twice is too much of a shock to the body, soul and mind.

Researchers report that genes involved in wound healing may play a role in determining melanoma scar outcome. Poorer scar outcome of melanoma scars were associated with thyroid problems and infection, among other things.

By using an all-natural scar removal formula, common sense would tell you that you decrease the risk of developing cancer in the area. Of course, you still have to change habits of sun exposure and exposing your skin to other carcinogenic compounds, but researchers believe that the skin of a scar is different than regular skin and may be more sensitive to changes from environmental influences.

Sources:

J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 2013 Mar 6 (Epub ahead of print)

Arch Dermatol Res 2012 Jul;304(5):342-51.