Skin lesions can be classified as either pigmented or non-pigmented. Among those that are pigmented a further division can be made separating those which are benign or unspecific versus those which are malignant and pose a health risk.
Suspicious skin growths of any colour warrant professional assessment. You can undergo an assessment whilst maintaining covid19-protocols. Please do not delay.
What creates the colour?
The most frequent cause of pigmented skin growths is excess activity or increase of melanocytes, the pigment producing cells within skin. This means they are melanocytic in nature. It is important to note that non-melanocytic lesions can be pigmented in dark-skinned individuals. Pigmented lesions that are not melanocytic are either keratinocytic, vascular, or reactive. Lesions which exhibit a loss of pigmentation from the destruction or dysfunction of melanocyte cells are known as hypopigmentation.
Colours to be seen
Pigmented lesions appear as brown, black, or blue. Vascular lesions may appear to be black or dark but under closer examination are determined to be red, blue, or purple due to the blood that they contain. The type and amount of melanin, thickness of skin, location of lesion within skin layers, presence of carotene, and degree of skin vascularity determine the colours seen. [Source].
Classifications of Pigmented Skin Growths
When determining a course of action it is important to correctly identify the type, characteristics, and risk-factors associated with a lesion. In addition, the cosmetic implications of a lesion should be taken into account. If the lesion is having a negative affect on how a Patient feels about their appearance, removal or treatment may be recommended.
Melanoma or malignant pigmented skin lesions can vary in appearance, they can not be differentiated from benign pigmented skin lesions based solely on their appearance.
Melanomas can change abruptly and become malignant. Any lesion which is suspicious should be evaluated and potentially biopsied.
Common Causes & Types of Pigmented Lesions
• Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation – Irregular darkly pigmented macules and patches. Often occurring after injury or inflammation such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, trauma, infection or drug reaction. Can disproportionately affect darker skin types. Is not linked with Melanoma.
• Melasma – Pigmented, well-defined macules; light brown, brown, or grey. A progressive condition of hypermelanosis affecting skin that is exposed to sun. Melasma can be epidermal, dermal, or mixed and affects women far more than men. Associated with pregnancy, birth control, and some oral medications. Usually found on face and arms.
• Naevus– This is a non-specific term used to describe clumps of melancyte cells. It use is widespread to cover both congenital and acquired lesions including blue nevus, congenital nevus, dysplastic nevus, and Spitz nevus along with other types of moles. Often associated with melanoma and therefore of critical import to watch for changes in nevi, keeping an eye out for any nefarious characteristics that appear.
• Solar lentigines/Ephelides/Café-au-lait macules – These pigmented lesions are also known as ‘sunspots’, freckles, and birthmarks respectively. Sunspots are a direct result of UV exposure to localized basal melanocytes. Freckles may number in the hundreds and result from excess melanin production with onset in childhood. Birthmarks tend to be solitary and occur from an increase of melanin within melanocytes and basal keratinocyte cells. These types of pigmented lesions are generally benign in nature and treatment is generally for cosmetic reasons alone.
• Cherry angiomas – Lesions presenting as red, blue, or purple papules due to capillaries at the surface of the skin. More common after age 40. Many may resemble melanoma in appearance, especially so if they clot or bleed but a true cherry angioma is not a health risk.
• Vitiligo – characterized by a loss of pigmentation in sharply defined, unpigmented macules ranging from 5 to 50mm. Can occur anywhere on the body when melanocytes are destroyed by the immune system. May be especially distressing for individuals with darker skin tones. Generally not associated with melanoma.
Read more about other common skin bumps, lumps, and growths in this guide here.
When to get Pigmented Skin Growths checked out
While the chances of a pigmented skin lesion being skin cancer may be small it is best to not take unnecessary risks. Early detection does safe lives. It is a quick straightforward process to have the skin growth removed. It is not overly expensive either. That being said a skilled Surgeon can remove all of the growth (including depth and necessary border) whilst minimising potential scarring.
Seek professional opinion if any skin lesion…
• Displays significant changes such as rapid growth or colour change
• Is atypical in size and shape with ragged borders
• Larger than a pencil eraser
• Causing anxiety or worry
• Tendency to bleed
We have seen a decrease in people presenting Skin Growths since the pandemic. Please do not wait for the pandemic to be over, we can conduct safe mole removal whilst maintaining covid19 precautions. Early detection, early removal &/ treatment is valuable.
Even if you have had a lesion for years be aware that melanomas can change suddenly to become a serious health risk – this adds to why Cancer Research is so complex. Remember Melanoma affects individuals of any age, catching it early is key to successful treatment outcomes.
Accessible Treatment Options for Pigmented Skin Growths
Dr Potgieter is available to assess and offer appropriate treatment options. His skill and experience in Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery allow him heightened sensitivity to aesthetic concerns. He is well-versed in techniques and after-care that prioritizes scar minimization. Removal is done with anaesthetic provided, it does not take long and it is conducted within the safety and comfort of the Dr Potgieter’s private rooms.
These are Medical Personal in private suites so Covid19 protocols are truly valued.
Peace of Mind Professional
Don’t let environmental concerns put your health at risk. Expect a gold standard of comfort and care at Dr Potgieter’s private suites. Diligent care in maintaining Covid19 precautions are exercised; all day, every day. Feel confident that value of precautionary protocols are fully understood and followed.
Call today 011 463 8602