Assuming the spots aren’t scaly or itchy, which could be a sign of eczema, chances are you’re experiencing a form of hypopigmentation known as idiopathic guttate hypomelano-sis, or IGH. Worry not: It’s actually extremely common, especially on the shins and arms. While the exact cause isn’t known, most dermatologists believe that sun damage is a contributing factor. First step: Slather on sunscreen and avoid prolonged sun exposure to prevent further damage, says Robert Anolik, MD, a Manhattan-based cosmetic dermatologist. (Besides, the white spots won’t tan, so if the rest of your skin gets darker, you risk exaggerating their appearance. Self-tanner won’t help either; it doesn’t adhere to the white spots.) There’s no sure-fire cure for IGH, but lasers may help. “The excimer laser, which is used for vitiligo, can stimulate the cells that make pigment,” Anolik says. “Another option is the Fraxel Dual, which helps normalize pigment.” Both lasers may involve numerous treatments and can cost several thousand dollars when all is said and done. And you should plan on one to two weeks of flaking after each session.
I was worried that the raised spot on my face was skin cancer. Good news: It’s not. Bad news: It’s a skin tag. What do I do now?
Skin tags, which are small pieces of extra flesh, are benign lesions that are typically a by-product of age, pregnancy or changes in hormone levels. They are most common in areas that chafe (e.g., folds in saggy skin). There’s really nothing you can do to prevent tags, and some people seem to be genetically predisposed to them. But relax: They’re harmless, though you should always check with a doctor about any new ones. On the brighter side, because skin tags don’t have nerves, the dermatologist should be able to easily freeze them and snip them off.
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