Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weird Things on My Skin

Photo by Tamboko the Jaguar
It happened. I broke a promise to myself.

When I was in my twenties, I vowed that to accept the forthcoming changes to my skin as little badges of honor, symbolizing all the wisdom accrued over time.

I planned to embrace multiplying wrinkles, sagging skin, and multiplying spots of all shapes and sizes as markers of my improving moral character.

By midlife, my totem would be a loving, languid old leopard. I lied.

Photo by mware2012 
Last month I went to a dermatologist because a weird thing on my skin was bothering me. Actually, considering its placement (front and center of my décolletage), I was more than bothered. I was insulted.

Part of the insult was having to learn the word décolletage so that I could talk with shop girls about managing that area.

Yeah. I'm now a cliché. I'm a fiftysomething woman complaining about her skin. *Sigh*

I'm not a trained dermatologist, so I don't take medical advice from me. Weird things on the skin can be something serious.

Also, aging invites a number of changes to the skin--some harmless, some a sign of a more serious problem. You should talk with a licensed medical professional to rule out more serious problems.  I caution you against conducting a search for photos of weird things on the skin. Nightmare inducing. Just call the doctor.

My dermatologist told me that the particular weird thing on my skin was merely a suborrheic keratosis, not to be confused with an acrochordon also known as a skin tag.

Suborrheic keratoses appear at midlife, generally on the torso and back, but they can appear almost anywhere on the skin but the palms and bottom of the feet. What causes them is still disputed. There seems to be a family history of them, but that is also still disputed. They don't spread. They aren't contagious. They generally don't cause any problems. Whew!

Photo by Consumerist
Suborrheic keratoses are pretty much just a natural result of aging skin. Some common terms for these are "barnacles" or "senile warts." But let's do our best to scrub those terms from society's lexicon. I prefer SKs (since suborrheic keratoses is difficult to say or spell).

Once accurately identified, I had these options:

Ignore it. Freeze it off. Electrocute it off. Or cut it off.  But I should not try to remove it myself because this could lead to infection. And if a suborrheic keratosis occurs in a place where clothing (such as a bra strap) or jewelry rubbed against it (such as my growing collection of décolletage distractors), then it's reasonable to ask a professional to remove it.

Yes, I did break my solemn, publicly declared vow and sought a cosmetic intervention rather than accepting age-related changes to my body.  However, I don't imagine my doing this again and again and again over the next several decades.  For one thing, I'd run out of time and money well before the Grim Reaper makes such work unnecessary.

I'm defining my trip to the dermatologist this way:  I've just bought a little more time to forge a mental attitude for the upcoming weird things on my skin.  With a smirk on my face, I gave a few coins to Father Time, asking him to come back later.

I imagined smugly that he agreed to my proposition.

Photo by wallyg
But he's probably walking through the backdoor right now. Or should I check the basement windows? I don't think I can run around the house fast enough to secure every point of entry, so I might as well just set a place for him at the table.

I wonder. Which of my new necklaces should I wear as I dine with Father Time?


Aging Disgracefully


  1. Do whatever it takes to feel better! About ten years ago I had a large lump on my back, a benign growth called a lypoma, and though there was no medical reason to remove it, I had outpatient surgery because, well, it just bugged me a lot. No shame!

  2. Sharon: That's an interesting story. I'm glad it was benign. I would probably choose to remove something like that, too! I'm just surprised to see that I'm doing cosmetic stuff (as minor as that was). I am the least girly of my sisters, and I've had my nose in a book for decades. It's new for me to even notice things like that. I guess it's never too late to change!

  3. I totally understand this. I have had some similar things done. As the years pass I many have less things done, cheat Father Time as much as possible. Keep your mood up and you will feel the difference in everything you do.

  4. Cheryl: You, too? I'm happy to know that I'm not on this journey alone. I didn't know I was vain until I hit midlife. I agree that I should primarily work on my attitude. It's cheaper to change my mind than to change my appearance (spot by spot, wrinkle by wrinkle, sag by sag). Chin(s) up, eh?

  5. Hi Karen....I tried to leave a comment before but it deleted me...and it was a REALLY good one too :-) Anyway, thought I'd try again just in case and try to sign in using another account. And as far as those skin things? I was born with freckles so I'm very used to having spots....some of them are just a bit bigger than they used to be :-) And I've also read that one way to look about 10 years younger is to wear a big smile--so that's my best accessory! Anyway, hoping this will post~ Kathy

    1. Hooray for freckles! And smiles. That's a great accessory. I am often thinking deeply about something, so I look like I'm scowling. I need to lighten up! Thanks for stopping by. Sorry my blog ate your comment. : (

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Karen, are these the same thing as skin tags?

    1. Anne: Good question. Skin tags are something different. They are more like a tower and about the same color as the surrounding skin. SKs are darker, flatter and waxier. I added a link above about skin tags if people want to learn more. They are both age related, however.