I went to the dermatologist yesterday for removal of a few skin tags and to ask about a few bumps on my face. On one side the bumps are seborrheic keratoses, small round or oval areas of thickened skin. One on the other side of my face felt rough and it was good that I asked about it. That one was a actinic keratoses, caused by (and I quote) "many years of sun exposure. They represent permanently sun-damaged areas and they contain abnormal cells which sometimes turn into skin cancers". The doctor used liquid nitrogen on it, a painless procedure which froze the growth to death. The doctor is not concerned as this bump was very small. I may never have another one, or if one does develop, I will recognize it as different from the others and make an appointment right away.
The surprising part of this is that I have never been a sun bather. I burn easily and therefore avoid prolonged, unprotected exposure. The doctor commented that it could have been childhood damage, but even then I wasn't out in the sun the way most kids were. The surprises continued as he went on to say that the brown patches on my neck are sun damage too. They appeared a few years ago and I thought they were another one of those signs that you've passed your 50th birthday.
This picture isn't the best due to photographing myself in the bathroom mirror, but you can see the discoloration on the right side in this photo. The bandaid is where two skin tags were removed. Can you see an oval patch that is darker from my necklace down into my sweater neckline? The bandaid is about mid-way down the length of this patch. That might be more sun damage, but he thinks it is tinea versicolor, a fungal infection. Almost everyone has this fungus, but on some unlucky people, the fungus finds just the right spot of body chemistry to thrive and multiply. I have a cream to use. If it lightens or disappears in a month, his diagnosis is correct. If not, it is more sun damage. The light band that starts at my necklace and crosses the bandaid is a reflection from my camera. Or maybe from my teeth. I had an appointment with the dental hygienist yesterday morning.