Wrinkles

Birthmarks are abnormal skin discolorations in spots that are either present at birth or appear shortly thereafter. They can be flat or slightly raised from the skin. They can be any number of colors, including red, brown, black, tan, pink, white or purple. Birthmarks are generally harmless. There are two major categories of birthmarks: pigmented birthmarks and red birthmarks.

Pigmented Birthmarks can grow anywhere on the skin and at any time. They are usually black, brown or skin-colored and appear singly or in groups. They can be moles (congenital nevi) that are present at birth, Mongolian spots, which look like bluish bruises and appear more frequently on people with dark skin, or café-au-lait spots that are flat, light brown or tan and roughly form an oval shape.

Red Birthmarks (also known as macular stains) develop before or shortly after birth and are related to the vascular (blood vessel) system. There are a number of different types:

  • Angel kisses, which usually appear on the forehead and eyelids.
  • Stork bites, which appear on the back of the neck, between the eyebrows on the forehead, or on eyelids of newborns. They may fade away as the child grows, but often persist into adulthood.
  • Port-wine stains, which are flat deep-red or purple birthmarks made up of dilated blood capillaries (small blood vessels). They often appear on the face and are permanent.
  • Strawberry hemangiomas, composed of small, closely packed blood vessels that grow rapidly and can appear anywhere on the body. They usually disappear by age nine.
  • Cavernous hemangiomas are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but go more deeply into the layers of the skin. These can often be characterized by a bluish-purple color. They also tend to disappear naturally around school age.

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Wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process. They occur most frequently in areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, back of the hands and forearms. Over time, skin gets thinner, drier and less elastic. Ultimately, this causes wrinkles - either fine lines or deep furrows. In addition to sun exposure, premature aging of the skin is associated with smoking, heredity and skin type (higher incidence among people with fair hair, blue-eyes and light skin).

Treatment for wrinkles runs the gamut from topical creams and moisturizers to cosmetic procedures. The most common medical treatments are:

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids, preparations made from "fruit acids" that produce subtle improvements in the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Antioxidants, creams consisting of Vitamins A, C and E and beta-carotene that improves the appearance of wrinkles and provides some additional sun protection.
  • Moisturizers, which temporarily reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Vitamin A Acid, which helps alleviate some of the signs of aging, including mottled pigmentation (e.g., liver spots), roughness and wrinkling.

Cosmetic procedures include:

  • chemical peels
  • dermabrasion
  • fillers
  • laser resurfacing
  • plastic surgery

The best prevention for wrinkles is to keep the skin moisturized and use sunscreen and sunblock to prevent additional damage from the sun.