A blemish is a discolored area of skin that does not rise and is less than one centimeter in diameter. If you close your eyes and run your finger over your skin, you usually won't feel any change in texture.
The spots are common in a variety of conditions, some of which are serious and some of which are not. They are called primary lesions because they are often the first step in identifying the disease. Other primary lesions include pustules (a pus-filled pimple or blister) and swelling.
The macula can be seen anywhere on the body, but most of the time it is found on the chest, back, face, and arms. They can be hypopigmented (lighter than the surrounding skin), hyperpigmented (darker than the surrounding skin), or appear pink or red.
The macula may or may not be a sign of something serious. They are often present from the moment of birth and can grow or enlarge as a person ages. Even moles can be considered a type of stain.
The macula can manifest itself in a number of common and unusual conditions, including:
- Vitiligo , loss of skin color associated with autoimmune diseases.
- Versicolor, versicolor , dark or light colored skin areas caused by a fungus
- Cutaneous yeast infection , an itchy red rash caused by the same fungus as oral yeast infection.
- Rosacea , red spots on the skin of the face.
- Rubella (German measles) , a common viral infection.
- Tuberous sclerosis is a rare condition that can cause hypopigmentation.
- Actinic keratosis , a form of precancer
- Skin cancers including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Skin cancer and blemishes
A spot alone is not a sign of skin cancer. Although the spot may appear cancerous, more tests will be needed to confirm or exclude the diagnosis. There are four types of skin cancer or precancer, each with its own characteristic appearance:
- Actinic keratoses are scaly dry patches or patches commonly found on the head, neck, arms, and forearms.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) lesions appear as a pinkish patch or a pearly, flesh-colored lump, most often on the head, neck, and arm (but elsewhere on the body as well).
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) may present as a scaly patch, a hard red bump, or an ulcer that heals and reopens. They appear most often on the edges of the ears, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.
- Melanoma can appear as a dark spot on the skin or sudden abnormal changes in the mole.
If you find suspicious-looking spots or lesions, see a dermatologist as soon as possible.
To determine the cause of the blemish, a dermatologist will begin with a physical examination of the lesion. In some cases, such as vitiligo or rosacea, a control appearance is sufficient to make a diagnosis (although additional tests may be performed to identify the underlying causes).
In other cases, a doctor may perform a culture if a fungus is believed to be the cause, or use blood tests to detect a viral or bacterial infection.
If cancer is suspected, skin biopsy remains the gold standard of diagnosis. The procedure can be performed relatively quickly in the doctor's office and under local anesthesia. Once the skin is numb, the skin sample will be removed (either by shaving it with a 3mm punch or excised with a scalpel) and analyzed in the laboratory. If cancer is suspected, the biopsy is reversed.
Based on the results of any of these procedures, be it a visual check, lab test, or biopsy, your doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment for diagnosis.
Get the word of drug information
The sudden appearance of any skin lesion can be worrisome, especially if it changes rapidly or is irregularly shaped . Even if you're not sure what it is (or it doesn't match the characteristic profile), check it out sooner rather than later.
After all, there is a good chance that the injury is not serious or is not easily treatable. Even if it is cancer, early diagnosis and treatment give you the best chance for success. If caught early, even melanoma can be cured with relatively little surgery.
To reduce your personal risk of skin cancer:
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher (even if it's cloudy).
- Cover up with clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Seek shade whenever possible, especially between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
- Never let your skin burn.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Check your body monthly for suspicious spots, moles, or lesions.