Skin Scare

FYI, this might turn into one of those “preachy, PSA-type” posts that I generally hate reading. But I think it’s kinda important so bear with me. Also, I talk about blood and scabs so if you’re squeamish, consider yourself warned.

Two weeks before my May 22 wedding I noticed a little pimple-looking thing on my right shoulder. Being the incredibly vain person we all know and love, I attempted to pop it. My dress was strapless and I wanted this thing to go away! I broke the skin and it started bleeding. Ok, no big deal. It’ll just scab over and clear up in the next 2 weeks.

But it didn’t. Not even a little bit.

It scabbed over, but never actually healed. In the shower my loofa (loufa? Whatever.) would remove the scab. It would come off while I was sleeping. And every time it bled a LOT. This concerned me, but to be honest, I had a wedding to worry about so I just accepted it and moved on. If it was still there for the wedding my photographers could Photoshop it out of the pictures.

On my wedding day, it was still there, scabbed over. I left it alone for most of the day, but literally MINUTES before we were announced I, like an idiot, scratched it and opened the wound. And it bled. And I was wearing a white dress. Thank GOD Josh had a small, clear band aid (it was actually for foot blisters, but worked beautifully in this case.) I put it on right as our entrance music began and we walked into the reception like champs.

See it? Ugh. Also, hello, linebacker shoulders. Photo by Linczak Photography, cropping by me.

Over the summer it would partially heal, open back up, heal almost completely, open back up, and so-on. I kept saying, “I gotta get this checked out. I’ll do it eventually.” My mom noticed it, friends noticed it, Josh noticed it, and all told me, “Emily, please go have some one look at that.” Truthfully, I was scared of what they might find. I’m a self-admitted sun lover. I’ve used tanning beds many, many times. There is no history of skin cancer in my family, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to me.

Yesterday I finally went to the dermatologist (if you’re in the DC/MD area and need one please let me know, I’d be more than happy to pass along his info.) I wasn’t nervous, necessarily, just anxious to get a definite answer. The doctor was AMAZING. He was attentive, personable, didn’t make me feel stupid or that I was wasting his time. He was young (dare I say kind of cute?) and very knowledgeable. He asked me a few questions, urged me (gently) to stay away from the tanning beds, and pretty much identified the problem right away.

He told me it was something called “pyogenic granuloma.” They are always benign (whew!), but he wanted to remove it and send it to the lab just to be sure. And he did. Like, right then and there. So with no hand to hold (and holding back tears) he injected me with a local anesthetic, sliced that baby off, and cauterized the incision, all within the span of about 3 minutes.

Although I’m still waiting for the results, I can say with 99% certainty it’s probably nothing. However, I’m SO glad I got it checked out. The whole ordeal was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I need to stop using tanning beds (self-tanner isn’t all that bad, I guess.) I need to use more sunscreen. I need to keep an eye on my moles and freckles for any new ones that pop up or existing ones that change. Basically, I need to get serious about my skin.

Like I said up top, I don’t want to be preachy, but I urge all of you to do a check of your skin and your moles and if you see anything weird, have a doctor look at it as soon as you can. And as the ladies of Cosmopolitan say, Practice Safe Sun!

Have you had moles or other weird “skin things” removed?

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14 Responses to Skin Scare

  1. Shannon says:

    I’m sure it will turn out to be fine but good for you for having it checked.

    I had two moles removed on my chest when I was in middle school, they had been there since around birth but had started to look funny so they were removed and fortunately weren’t cancerous.

    I use to tan a LOT in college but with the exception of the month before my wedding (um hello white dress) I haven’t been to a tanning bed since. I’m fair skinned and have just come to accept it. I use SPF lotion on my face everyday but definitely have fine lines already from my previous tanning. I did make an exception for the wedding but don’t plan to go again.

  2. Megan says:

    My school has a free skin cancer screening every two years and the first year I went, the doctor was like “Well, looks like we’re going to have to biopsy a couple moles!” I, like an idiot, thought that meant they would scrape a few cells off the surface or something. But no, as you found out, they just cut the whole darn thing out right then and there! He had me talking to gauge how I was feeling and in the midst of my story I thought ‘that’s weird, my speech is slowing down’ and suddenly the doctor was like “Lay her down, she’s going to pass out!” Ha. Oops! Um…. long {tangential} story short – YES! Go get moles/freckles/suspicious things checked out! Glad you went to the doctor and have peace of mind now 🙂

  3. Hannah says:

    Everyone on my dad’s side over 30 and my mom have skin cancer. It is so common here in Florida I feel like its something we all watch out for and we make it a point to go to yearly derma check-ups.

    Knowing I’ll get it makes me want to catch it early so it can never get too big!

  4. LauraLou says:

    Ok, this post may be just what I needed to go get mine checked out. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember so I thought it was just a birthmark, but it couldn’t hurt to have it looked at. Glad yours was nothing serious!

  5. Steph C. says:

    I tell this to Scot all.the.time.. he just naturally has a bunch of sun spots/freckles/moles, but I noticed one on his back that was darker and more mishapen than the rest. After about a year of me nagging, he went to get it checked out a few weeks ago, not like it mattered because I swear the doctor was an idiot. ((So yes, I would like to know who you went to, please!)) They told him “Oh I don’t know, but we can biopsy if you want”. Way to know your stuff.

    Anyway. Skin cancer does run in his family so it’s worth getting a second opinion, IMO. But either way, I’m so happy that yours is (probably) nothing to worry about.. and I kind of like the Jergens self-tanning stuff! It gets a little gross if you wear it and it’s warm out and you sweat, but yea, doesn’t smell bad at least, lol.

  6. kjpugs says:

    My mom has a skin cancer removed probably once a month. Some that are easy to get rid of, some that are scary. It freaks me out. (Granted, she’s Irish, pale as a ghost, and used baby oil most of her sun-soaked life.)

    EVERYONE needs to check themselves. I think that might be what I got removed from my leg- I had a weird sort of zit like thing on my leg that I also tried to pop but it bled all the time. The doctor removed it and they might have said that granuloma thing or whatever but all I wanted to hear was that it was not dangerous after the biopsy (it wasn’t.)

    Did they say that it was caused by tanning? The article you linked to didn’t mention anything about UV exposure, just that it happened often at injury sites. Just curious if the doctor mentioned that.

    I hope everyone will visit a derm for ANY weird something! You’d be surprised the creams/balms/treatments they have for any little thing. Your epidermis is important!

  7. Eeek that stinks! When I was a little girl, I got all of these little mole/bump-like things on the back of my knee…about 20 of them or so. My mom took me to the dermatologist, and they proceeded to spray my leg with an aerosol can of anesthetic and then chop every single one of them off as I laid on the bed screaming bloody murder. I hear you lady – it is NOT FUN.

    Oh – and that reminds me…I had a Cindy Crawford-esque mole under my lip as a girl as well. The dermatologist seared that sucker off with a mini blowtorch thing. Again, with me screaming bloody murder. I still have a small scar from where it was if you look hard enough (thankfully it has faded over the course of almost 20 years).

    Crap…I can’t stop myself…one more thing! With my olive skin I don’t freckle…I get moles (or as my mom and I call them: beauty marks because they aren’t raised or growing hairs or anything gross…they are just really large freckles…). I have a few that are on my back/shoulder, and we were always watching them as I was a little girl. The doctor told us the rule of thumb was to make sure they were round…and that they weren’t any larger than the end of a pencil eraser. If they grew larger, we would come back to the doctor. Thankfully, mine have remained the same size my entire life, so I’m going to continue to consider them marks of beauty…cough cough.

  8. Jessica says:

    Umm… I have tons of moles. I haven’t been to a tanning bed in about 7 months (since my wedding) and I’m glad I haven’t been because I can’t stand to get anymore. They kind of pop up here and there on my chest but recently I’ve been keeping an eye on one I’ve had since I was little. I really need to get it checked. I have noticed a couple teeny moles have showed up around it.

    Thankfully, it looks like the only one that is “round and bigger than a pencil eraser” as Shelikesruffles said, none of the others are irregular. Guess I better get to scheduling an appointment {shudders} and get them all checked. Waah.

  9. dancy says:

    I haven’t had anything removed myself (yet) but I def. see it on the horizon. My mother had skin cancer on her nose, my grandmother and aunt both had to have some cells scraped off, so it’s in my blood. Like KJ said, for me – it’s the Jersey shore sitting in the sun when you’re mad Irish thing – bad idea. It’s scary.

  10. So, so glad you got checked! I try to get checked all over every few years just because I did major sun damage to myself as a kid- I HATED sunscreen and even have permanent bathing suit lines on my back thanks to a particularly nasty burn!

  11. Laura L says:

    I’ve had a few moles removed only one was considered possibly cancerous. I don’t generally get them checked out much but when I remember I try to have my doctor take a peek at them — especially the ones I don’t see regularly (like my back). It’s good to know what your moles / spots look like because if they start changing color or anything you need to get that suckah checked out ASAP! Glad you checked it out girl!

  12. Anni says:

    That’s so scary! I’m glad that he was able to tell you they’re pretty much always benign. At least you don’t have to worry like crazy while waiting for the results. Thanks for the reminder to be aware! I’m pale and burn easily, so skin cancer’s a very real threat.

  13. Christina says:

    Oh my goodness. Now you’ve made me want to go back to the dermatologist! I have a an odd looking bump on my leg that never goes away. Combine that with my former love of tanning beds and naturally pale skin… yikes. I’m glad you were able to get it removed easily! Thanks for sharing, it’s definitely important info.

  14. Thanks for sharing your experience 😀

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