Seborrheic keratosis is a noncancerous skin growth that commonly affects the elderly. Its exact causes are unknown, although it tends to be hereditary. Seborrheic keratosis is a painless condition that requires no treatment; many individuals, however, choose to have the growth(s) removed for cosmetic purposes.
A seborrheic keratosis typically appears on the head, neck, or trunk. It is usually round or oval shaped, and it may vary in color. In some cases, seborrheic keratosis may itch. Medical attention may be necessary if numerous seborrheic keratoses develop in a short period of time, the seborrheic keratoses interfere with clothing, or other abnormal skin changes occur.
Seborrheic keratosis is diagnosed by inspecting the affected area. A biopsy may be taken to rule out skin cancer. Seborrheic keratoses require no treatment. If removal is requested for cosmetic purposes, it may be achieved through cryosurgery, curettage, or electrocautery.
Shingles is a rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is responsible for chickenpox. Shingles typically affects one side of the body, most commonly affecting the back and chest. Early treatment for shingles is ideal to relive pain and reduce complications.
Patients with shingles may experience itching, pain, numbness or burning, fluid-filled blisters, and a rash that breaks out a few days after the pain in the affected area. In addition, shingles may cause headache, fatigue, fever, and a general achy feeling. Individuals experiencing the aforementioned symptoms should seek medical attention.
Shingles is typically diagnosed by examining the skin. If blisters are present, your doctor may take a culture of them for pathological examination. Without treatment, shingles typically heals within a few weeks. Medical treatment, however, can accelerate the healing process, relieve pain, and minimize complications. A combination of antiviral drugs and pain-relieving drugs are usually prescribed to treat shingles. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan for your individual condition.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that affects over 250,000 people in the United States each year. It is usually caused by excessive, long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and most frequently affects people over the age of 50 and with pale skin. Squamous cell carcinoma does not cause pain or any other symptoms, but develops as a growth on the skin, usually in sun-exposed areas. These growths can vary in appearance and may be new or a change to a pre-existing scar.
Squamous cell carcinoma affects the area just below the outer surface of the skin. Most cases can be completely removed through minimally invasive procedures that may include freezing, excision, laser therapy, Mohs surgery or radiation therapy. Skin cancer can usually be treated successfully if detected and removed quickly. It is important to take precautionary measures such as avoiding sun exposure and performing regular skin checks to prevent new cases of squamous cell carcinoma.
Vitiligo is a common skin condition in which patches of the skin lose pigmentation and appear white. These patches develop when melanin is not produced properly, and tend to spread over time as the condition progresses. Some patients may also experience premature whitening of the hair and a loss of color inside the mouth. Although not harmful, patients with vitiligo are often bothered by their appearance and may seek treatment to correct their skin tone.
Treatment for vitiligo depends on the severity of the condition, and may include oral or topical medications, UVB therapy, depigmentation or skin grafts. While there is no cure for this condition, treatment is often effective in improving the appearance of the skin.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments; some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.