We’re all got darker spots on our skin. There are some many potential reasons for these that it is hard to pin down any exact reasons to tell people. Broadly speaking, we refer to these as instances of hyperpigmentation. Your skin is simply producing more melanin than usual in an area and as a result a spot darkens and stays darker. Much of the time there is nothing harmful about hyperpigmentation. We’re even used to certain kinds such as instances of moles or even freckles. It is important that we recognize that not all hyperpigmentation is perfectly harmless though. There are clear signs when the problem is something other than a simple difference in skin tone in a highly localized area. Knowing these signs can end up being the difference between detecting a skin cancer before it becomes a problem and only getting to it when it has already become a clear danger.

Color Is Key
Distinguishing harmless from dangerous spots on your skin is an easy process if you can get a good look at them. Most of the time you’ll find that harmless spots tend to be fairly consistent in their color and relatively uninformed. It is a slightly darker shade of your own skin. Dangerous spots are a little different. These spots tend to be of mixed coloration and potentially as dark as pure black in localized spots. Most of the time they tend to be mixed. You’ll get a slightly darker shade with mixed sections of the darkest possible shades. This lack of a consistent color and too dark of a color is typically a very good indication that you need to speak to a doctor to have the spot checked out. It is far from the only sign though. You’ll want to look for a few more to help clarify if you’re dealing with a potential problem if the pigmentation isn’t enough for you to be sure.

Problematic Shapes
Most of us are familiar with standard moles or sun spots. These tend to be rather small, and uniformly shaped. There are a few that tend to be a little oddly shaped, but most of the time these are at least somewhat symmetrical in nature on top of being small. The problems start to come in when a spot isn’t like this. A spot that is a little too large and not even vaguely symmetrical is something that needs your attention. We need to stress that most normal spots are going to be smaller than the size of an eraser too. Large, symmetrical spots with odd coloration are not a good sign most of the time. The one exception to this is often if you’ve always had it. Most of us have our share of spots from growing up or genetics. These tend to finish turning up by around 30. We need to pay careful attention to anything after that age though. That’s when we’re more likely to start seeing spots that turn out to be a form of skin cancer.

Changing Times
Watching your body carefully after 30 is important, as we said, and there are a few things you need to look out for to ensure your skin’s health. The most obvious cue is when a new spot appears. Since most harmless dark spots will have formed by then, any new spots are likely the result of something. This can be another condition causing hyperpigmentation, yes, but it does mean you need to pay closer attention. Examine new spots in light of our other tips to get an impression of them and take them to your dermatologist for examination if you’re uncertain. Additionally, you need to watch all spots on your body for changes over time. Spots that get darker, begin to grow, and otherwise take on odd shapes like we’ve previously discussed are typically a sign that you’re going to want to talk to a dermatologist about having the spot checked. Changing spots are almost always a sign that something is up and needs to be done to ensure long-term health.

A regular self-check is typically a good thing to begin to engage in if you’re over 30 and want to keep any eye on dark spots all over your body. Remember that having a full-length mirror or a partner or family member to help you check your entire body can be helpful. We also recommend talking to your dermatologist about other potential signs you might want to consider based on your heritage or medical history. Taking the time to learn to be able to tell when a spot is a bad sign will help protect your health in the long run despite the effort.

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