Spotting Skin Spots

by Catherine Ernotte

Last month the article “KNOW YOUR A, B, C, D AND Es” discussed the signs to be aware of for melanoma skin cancer.  This section will address other types of skin spots that also require your attention.


SK is not cancer but a fairly common lesion that can appear on any part of the body. SK can start as itchy rough bumps that may thicken with time and can darken to black or brown color.  Unlike melanoma which is typically irregular SK tends to be round or oval with the rough area elevated.  Although SK can look like it is spreading it is not contagious. A cause has not been determined but with age are more common. Even though SK is harmless it is important to observe regularly for any changes.


AK is also referred to as solar keratosis and is a precancerous lesion caused by long exposure to the sun.  The sun changes the outer cells of the skin to become rough, scaly, discolored, and maybe tender when touched.  Skin areas exposed to the sun such as the face, lips, ears, neck, scalp, forearms and the backs of the hands are common occurrence areas. If you are fair-skinned and have light-colored eyes and hair you are at a greater risk. AK is not considered life-threatening if diagnosed and treated early. If untreated AK can progress to squamous cell carcinoma which is serious skin cancer.


This is a major skin cancer that is usually on areas exposed to the sun. If ignored it can grow to penetrate underlying tissue.  There is a small chance that this can then spread to other organs and become fatal.  The leading cause is sun exposure.  People with blue, green, or grey eyes, light hair, and fair skin are more susceptible.  Other contributing factors may be burns, exposure to radiation or chemicals, immunosuppressed individuals, and chronic inflammation.  The lesions appear as scaly red patches, raised with the middle area depressed, wart-like growth area, a nodule, or an open sore.  They may be crusty and bleed.


This is the most common form of skin cancer also occurring in the sun-exposed skin area. It commonly does not spread but can destroy surrounding tissue.  People with light hair, fair skin, and blue, green, or grey eyes or more at risk.  BCC may have several different appearances.  Look for an open sore, reddish patch, central indentation with an elevated border, a scar-like area, a bump or nodule. There may be other factors as mentioned in SCC as well.

In the spirit of NATIONAL HEALTH EDUCATION WEEK, help educate yourself, family, and friends by BEING A SPOTTER and knowing how to protect your skin in the sun The American Academy of Dermatology web site, as well as many others, have images and material to assist you to identify potential problem spots.  Always consult your health care provider with any concerns.

Share your Story with us…

Real stories are a powerful way for families to understand the benefits of foster care and being adoptive parents. Whether you are a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee, adoption changes you. Each time you share your story with someone, you will be reminded how all the pieces of your adoption or foster care journey came together.