Thickening of the skin can be termed as keratosis. It resembles an overgrowth restricted to a particular area on the upper layer of the skin resembling a wart or callus.
Actinic keratosis / solar keratosis: Thick brittle and scaly patches in the skin that indicate pre malignancy, actinic keratosis indicates the progress of skin cancer. This condition is commonly referred to as precancerous condition. This condition is common among white skinned people and in people aged above 30. People diagnosed with this condition should visit the doctor on a regular basis to keep a track on these bumps. Constant exposure to sun can cause this condition. It is common in the exposed areas of the body such as chest, forearms, ears, neck, backs of hands, face, scalp and lips. Symptoms include scaly patches, rashes that don't itch or pain and reddish-brown skin. Actinic keratosis is treated through surgery. If the bumps are large, laser surgery is performed, for smaller bumps cryotherapy is performed.
Seborrheic keratosis: Small pink and brown warts represent seborrheic keratosis, this type of keratosis is benign. They resemble age spots and appear with aging. The exact cause for this condition is clearly not known. The growth occurs in areas that are more often exposed to the sun. Genetic reasons could also cause this condition. It is characterized by yellow-brown warts or papules. Seborrheic keratosis requires no treatment as it is harmless but picking at the spot might lead to an infection. In case the person affected by the condition prefers removal of these growths, they can be removed through cryotherapy, electrocautery (burning the growth with electric current) and curettage (scraping off the surface of the skin using specialized instruments).
Keratosis pilaris: Red bumps on the skin indicate keratosis pilaris, the skin surface also gets rough and bumpy. It is commonly referred to as chicken skin. This type of keratosis is usually mistaken for pimples. Keratosis pilaris is more common in children and settles down on its own as they grow up. Excessive keratin produced in the human body causes this condition. This condition is also believed to be hereditary. This condition appears like rough bumps on the skin that might get itchy. There is no treatment for keratosis pilaris. Exfoliation and moisturizing the affected area can make the skin soft and smooth.
Warts are skin infection caused by human papillomavirus. There is rapid growth of cells on the skin's outer layer causing embarrassment. They can surface anywhere on the skin. Warts can be passed from one person to another through physical contact. A particular strain of the papillomavirus causes genital warts. While in some cases, warts go away on their own, others linger for months on end. Warts can be painful and embarrassing. Warts generally appear as flesh-colored bumps on the skin's outer layer. They are rough to touch. Warts are treated with salicylic acid products. Liquid nitrogen therapy involves use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. This leads to blistering that can be sloughed off. Often cantharidin is painted onto the wart and it is left with a bandage. The blister that forms on the skin aids in lifting the wart off the skin.
Acrochordon, also known as skin tag is an overgrowth of the skin hanging loose from the surrounding area and is connected by a stalk (peduncle). Acrochordons are normally benign growths; they are soft wrinkled protrusions and appear in flesh or light brown color. They are filled with collagen fibres and blood vessels with a thin layer of skin covering them.
They do not cause any pain and small growths may just fall off unknowingly. Slightly bigger acrochordons do not fall on their own and need to be removed using various methods. Though they can occur anywhere on the body, the areas like under arms, eyelids, upper chest, neck, and groin are more prone to develop skin tags as the skin here rubs against the clothing or with the adjoining skin. Acrochordon occurs in both men and women and the frequency of the condition increases as we age.
What causes Acrochordon?
Skin tags are caused by the constant rubbing between the skins of adjacent sites. Obesity is one of the very obvious causes that lead to acrochordon. These people tend to develop more skin tags simply because they have more skin folds on their body. Research also shows that this condition is inherited: people with close relatives having acrochordons have higher chances of developing this skin condition. Pregnant women also have a tendency to develop skin tags due to the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies. Diabetic patients are also prone to skin tags. Wart virus or human papilloma virus also cause skin tags.
Clinical examination is sufficient to diagnose the acrochordon. Yet in case of suspicion, doctor may advise skin biopsy. This procedure involves removal of small piece of skin to be examined in laboratory. This is done to rule out any malignancy of the growth.
Treatment of Acrochordon
Typically acrochordons do not require any treatment and they need not be removed. But the bearer may choose to get it removed either for cosmetic reasons or if the tags become bothersome. A word of caution here, if the skin tags are changing color or growing too quickly it is advisable to show it to your physician to rule out any further complications. Cryosurgery is used extensively, where the skin tag is removed by freezing it using the liquid nitrogen. Cauterization is one more method which involves burning of the skin tag using electrolysis (heat). Skin tags are also removed by surgical excision.
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Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 19, 2020