Sunspots- when to see a dermatologist?

“Sun spots” is a broad term which includes a range of cancerous and benign lesions. Common types of skin cancer include squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma presents as a pearly white, pink or pigmented nodule, a pink scaling patch, a non healing ulcer or an unexplained scar.

Squamous cell carcinoma commonly presents as a pink or brown scaling patch.

Melanoma is the most dangerous of all skin cancers and most often presents as a ‘new’ irregular pigmented spot. Early detection can save lives.

Solar keratoses (Actinic keratoses) are precancerous lesions and 10-25% of these may persist and progress to skin cancer.
It is important to regularly check your skin and be aware of new or changing lesions (spots).

Solar lentigenes are freckles which increase in number with age and cumulative sun exposure. These spots are benign, but should be checked so that a melanoma, which is a deadly skin cancer, is not missed.

Seborrhoeic keratoses (seborrhoeic warts) are warty, pigmented or skin coloured growths, which can occur because of a genetic predisposition and sun exposure.

Visit a dermatologist if you have:
1. Personal or family history of skin cancer
2. Frequent sun exposure with a history of sunburn
3. New or changing ‘spots’
4. Scaling / crusting lesions
5. New or rapidly growing nodules
6. Wound/ulcer that does not heal

While most sun induced spots are benign, it is important to make an early diagnosis of skin cancer
Your dermatologist will be able to make a clinical diagnosis, or perform a skin biopsy if necessary for a histological diagnosis.
It is possible to treat early or newly evolving lesions with non surgical treatment options like freezing with liquid nitrogen or topical creams.
If a skin cancer needs surgery, there is a greater chance of complete cure with an early lesion.
Checking your skin yourself and regular visits to a dermatologist will ensure that all sunspots are diagnosed early and dealt with effectively.