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Each of us has pigmented spots on our skin, commonly known as moles. They vary in size, shape and color. Most are harmless. However, some moles can develop into melanoma, a skin cancer. That is why moles should be checked by a dermatologist once a year.

Tannedskinlooks nice, darker body appears thinner. But more importantly, under the influence of sunlight, as much as 90 percent is formed. vitamin D needed by our body throughout the day. It is used by the skeletal, nervous, muscular and immune systems. Not only that, research confirms that frequent but moderate exposure to sunlight reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancer. On the other hand, we constantly hear about the increasing number of cases ofmelanoma , the development of which is caused by sunburn. We talk about the control of birthmarks with a dermatologist, MD Magdalena Ciupińska - professor at the Academy of Cosmetics and He alth Care in Warsaw and the dermatology coordinator at SZPZLO Warsaw Wola.

How is it? Is the sun more harmful or helping?

MD Magdalena Ciupińska: There is no clear answer, because it helps and harms. Although I avoid the sun myself and wear long-sleeved blouses even in summer, I don't condemn people who want their skin to turn olive. Anyway, the sun is an excellent remedy for some skin diseases, e.g. psoriasis, atopic dermatitis. It is advisable to take advantage of the sun in a moderate amount. The problem starts when we stay there for too long, and each year more than 3,500 people are diagnosed in the UK. new cases of skin cancer. But these figures do not reflect the true epidemiological situation. The number of cases can be as high as 10,000. per year, simply not all patients see a doctor. It is similar with us.

Who is more at risk from the sun?

M.C .: People with numerous pigmented spots, commonly called moles, should be less in the sun. Each of us has them. They vary in size, shape and color. They are present from birth or appear with age. Most birthmarks are harmless, but a small percentage may betransform into dangerous skin cancerskin cancer- melanoma when exposed to sunlight.

Talking about it now, after the holidays, isn't "after dinner mustard"?

M.C .: No. It is after the holidays that we should pay more attention to our skin. Not only do you sign up for a moisturizing beautician, but also visit a dermatologist to look at all moles and evaluate which ones are safe and which require more examination or removal.

How to recognize a skin cancer?

What exactly are birthmarks?

M.C .: Simply put, these are abnormalities in the structure of the skin. This is a skin defect encoded in the genes. It arises in the womb. It may be visible at birth or show up after many years. Birthmarks appear on almost every part of the body. They can originate in the epidermis (e.g. seborrhoeic warts), blood and lymph vessels (hemangiomas at the level of the skin or convex, usually bluish red) and finally from skin pigment cells or from connective tissue (fibromas). In general, moles can be divided into melanocytic (pigmented) and cellular. The first ones owe their name to melanocytes cells that produce the dark pigment melanin. On the other hand, the latter may be skin-colored, brown or even black. Their surface can be smooth or convex, hairy.

What if the change in your skin just appeared after returning from vacation?

M.C.: Everything that appears on the skin and worries us should be shown to a dermatologist. Unwanted holiday souvenirs are most often brought by people with fair complexion, blonde or red hair, blue eyes, and also elderly people. Usually these are skin pigmentation disorders, i.e. freckles, chloasma. Freckles are tiny discolored spots on exposed parts of the skin that children and young people most often have. In summer there are more of them, winter, when there is less sun, fade. Freckles are our inborn trait. They are brown, small, do not stick out above the skin surface. They can be de alt with by using exfoliating and discoloring ointments after consultation with the doctor. Chloasma, on the other hand, are often large speckled, brownish discolorations visible on the face, sometimes on the neckline, forearms and neck. They occur after rapid sunbathing in people with hormonal disorders (thyroid gland, adrenal glands), in women expecting a child, menstruating irregularly, in the period of menopause. They go away on their own or after the underlying disease is cured. You can try to use discoloration ointments as for the treatment of freckles.

Sometimes dark or white spots appear after sunburn. Will they disappear?

M.C .: They usually disappear after a few months. It's necessary tohowever, remember that the stains once formed after another intensive tanning (also in the solarium) will be more and more distinct, even bigger. There are also skin changes that appear as an interaction between medications and the sun, such troubles can be caused primarily by St. John's wort, but also herbal remedies for the liver, facilitating digestion, eliminating constipation, some medications for hypertension, depression, and epilepsy. These changes are difficult to get rid of, but are not dangerous to your he alth.

The same cannot be said for pigmented lesions. Which of them can become more elusive?

M.C .: Indeed, signs after excessive sun exposure, irritation with sand on the beach, wet suits or during sports (e.g. skin irritation by diving wetsuits, hang glider harnesses, etc.) can change their character. Mechanical irritation of nevi favors their neoplastic transformation.

What should worry us about the appearance of the birthmarks?

M.C .: All changes to their appearance. If a birthmark becomes larger, itches, peels off, has a different shape or color, sometimes it bleeds, we should not delay the visit to the doctor. People with fair skin and fair or red hair, those who have sunburned in the past, and people with a family history of melanoma should regularly visit a dermatologist.

Can you diagnose melanoma yourself?

M.C .: The doctor better do it. But it's worth knowing that a safe pigmented nevus is clearly different from melanoma. It is symmetrical, has clear, even edges, although not always uniform in color. It is not surrounded by a pink halo that indicates inflammation. It is always the same size, and it certainly does not grow significantly in a few months. It also doesn't happen that it itches, bleeds or seeps out of it. Melanoma on the contrary. It has an irregular shape and a non-uniform structure with clearly visible lumps. Individual parts of it can also have a significantly different color. It is also usually larger than an ordinary mole and grows quite quickly. Often the skin around such a lesion is very itchy, sometimes there are drops of blood or a colorless liquid. As the lesion grows larger, a bluish-red, slightly raised inflammatory rim appears around it.

The most important test in assessing the type of birthmarks is dermatoscopy …

M.C .: Dermatoscopic examination is indeed extremely useful. Doctors have hand-held dermatoscopes at their disposal, as well as computer dermatoscopes. The second method, although much more expensive, is very precise and objective. The device also allows you to store patient data and perform comparative tests.During the examination, the doctor assesses the asymmetry of the lesion, its edges, color and diameter. It also allows you to determine the type of structures that make up the lesion, i.e. say that a nevus is made of a mesh, that they are formed by lumps. However, the final examination is always histopathology, i.e. examination under a microscope.

Cindy Crawford made the mole her trademark. But the mole is uneven. Delete them, then, or not?

M.C .: It's not that simple. There is a need to separate aesthetic considerations from medical considerations, when removing a birthmark preserves he alth or saves lives. The decision to remove a mole should always be preceded by a consultation with a dermatologist. I do not recommend using beauty salons. The rules of the art are as follows: a mole can be removed by a surgeon, and a birthmark located on the face can also be removed by an ENT and oral surgeon. A referral for a birthmark excision can be issued by a family doctor or a specialist, although I would like to remind you that you do not need a referral from a general practitioner to see a dermatologist. Whenever you are concerned about the appearance of a mole, ask a specialist to see it. People who do not intend to get rid of their moles should protect them with sunscreen also in winter, especially when skiing.


What is dermatoscopy?

This test allows to determine whether the birthmark is safe or suspicious without interfering with the skin structure. A dermatoscope is an optical device that magnifies the viewed fragment of the skin 10 times. It is equipped with a lamp that allows you to create a three-dimensional image.

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