Moles, Warts, and More in Tucson, AZ
Get Treatment for Lesions and Blemishes
There are many skin conditions that cause significant discomfort and aggravation, warts being one of the more common. Evaluation and treatment of warts is one of the most common reasons that residents here in Tucson and its surrounding communities schedule appointments with us. Patients can feel confident that most warts are merely benign growths that commonly involve the skin and other epithelial tissues. They can be very recalcitrant, but they are rarely worrisome. Warts are caused by various strains of a virus called Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. Warts are generally classified by their clinical features and morphology (e.g. common, flat, filliform) or by location (e.g. genital, plantar). Patients often go forward with having them removed as they can be bothersome and painful, and can spread to other sites.
Another common reason to visit a dermatologist is for evaluation and removal of moles. The medical term for a mole is "nevus," and the plural is "nevi." Most people think of a mole as a dark brown spot, but they have a wide range of appearances and can be very numerous in a given individual. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. They are usually brown in color and can be various sizes and shapes. While most moles are benign in nature, there are some moles that are medically concerning.
The brown color in moles is caused by melanocytes, which are special cells that produce the pigment melanin. Most appear during the first 20 years of a person's life, although some may not appear until later. Sun exposure increases the likelihood of development, and each mole has its own growth pattern. At first, they are flat and tan, pink, brown, or black in color, like a freckle. Over time, they usually enlarge, and some develop hairs. As the years pass, moles usually change slowly, becoming more raised and lighter in color, but some will not change at all. Most will slowly disappear, seeming to fade away. Others will become raised so far from the skin that they may develop a small "stalk" and eventually fall off or get rubbed off. This is the typical life cycle of the common mole. These changes occur slowly since the life cycle of the average mole is about 50 years. Moles may darken with exposure to the sun. During the teen years and sometimes during pregnancy, moles often get darker and larger, and new ones may appear. This is often medically inconsequential; however, it is best to have any new or changing pigmented lesion evaluated by a dermatologist, regardless of age or pregnancy status.
What Can I Expect During Treatment for Moles and Warts in Tucson, AZ?
Although some warts will spontaneously resolve, most patients opt to treat warts. We at Ironwood Dermatology employ several different techniques to successfully treat warts: topical agents, freezing (cryotherapy), laser treatments, injections, or minor surgical removal. Successful eradication of warts often requires several sessions and sometimes multiple treatment modalities.
On the other hand, moles are only removed surgically, either with a simple shave procedure or a more traditional elliptical excision with sutures in place. The dermatologist will usually choose to perform a biopsy of the mole and send the specimen for pathologic evaluation to ensure that the mole is not a risk for eventual skin cancer.