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What is that on Your Skin? Common Skin Growths

There are a variety of benign skin growths that can pop up on your skin at any time in life. It’s important to visit a dermatologist if you notice any unusual growth to properly diagnose the condition and make sure it’s not malignant.

Moles
Moles are one of the most common skin growths of the pigment-producing cells in the skin and can be flat or raised, rough or smooth, and are typically dark brown or black. Genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors like overexposure to the sun all contribute to the development of moles.

Atypical moles that could contain melanoma can be identified by the acronym ABCD: asymmetry, irregular border, uneven or multiple colors, and large diameter, usually >6mm. If you have any of those features in a mole, a dermatologist will need to evaluate and biopsy the tissue if necessary to confirm if it is cancerous.

Seborrheic keratoses
Seborrheic keratoses usually presents as a black, brown, or light tan growth on the face, shoulders, or back and is one of the most common non-cancerous skin growths in adults. The spots are usually waxy and scaly, and can have a slightly elevated appearance. Treatment is not usually necessary unless the growths are irritated or inflamed or if there’s a cosmetic concern.

Liver spots
Lentigines, or liver spots, are hyperpigmented patches that usually appear in pale tan or brown spots with advancing age. Liver spots tend to show up on areas that get a lot of sun exposure, including the hands, forearms, neck, and face, and many lentigines indicate excessive damage and increased risk of sun-induced skin cancer. Like treatment for seborrheic keratoses, treatment is primarily for cosmetic reasons.

Cherry angioma
Cherry angiomas are small, red skin lesions, or changes in the color or texture of your skin, and are categorized as benign vascular growths. Treatment is not necessary, but laser therapy can help break up cherry angiomas for cosmetic purposes.

Dermatofibroma

A dermatofibroma is a reddish-brown bump that is small and firm and can feel like a stone under the skin or a raised bump above the skin. Dermatofibroma usually shows up on the legs and lower back, and contains nerves and blood vessels, so can bleed if it’s damaged.

Dermoid cyst
A dermoid cyst is a benign tumor that is present at birth and can grow slowly over time. They usually occur on the face or on the lower back and are made up of hairs, oil glands, and sweat glands. Dermoid cysts on the face can be surgically removed for cosmetic reasons.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.