Noncancerous or benign skin growths may be flat or raised, colored or flesh-colored and may be caused by viruses, genetics and environmental factors.
Seborrheic Keratosis (SK)
Seborrheic keratoses are common benign skin growth that affect people older than 30. They are often found in groups but can occur as a single growth. Most people will develop at least one during their lives.
SKs are flat or only slightly raised, tan, black or brown growths with a rough texture that looks “pasted on” the face, chest, shoulders and back. They may itch. Picking at them can cause bleeding, swelling and infection. They look can look like skin cancer but are not related to sun exposure. SKs tends to run in families.
Sebaceous Hyperplasia (SH)
Sebaceous Hyperplasia are small shiny, flesh-colored to yellow bumps. They are caused by trapped sebum (oil) and dead skin cells inside enlarged oil glands, typically on the face, forehead and nose. They are common in people with fair skin, and are linked with high testosterone, sun exposure and genetics.
Moles are common appearing during childhood and adolescence. They may darken or lighten with age. However, these changes can be cause for concern in adults who develop new moles and changes in an existing mole that could be a sign of a melanoma. Moles are usually round, flat or slightly raised brown-colored skin, but can be tan, red, black, pink, blue or colorless. Some moles can have hair, and some can disappear on their own. Moles can develop anywhere on the body, even under the fingernails, between the fingers and toes, and on the scalp.
A common mole is harmless. Atypical (dysplastic) moles are larger than a pencil eraser, have an odd shape and show more than one color. Atypical moles can be confused with melanoma. When a person has four or more atypical moles, a previous melanoma, and a relative with melanoma, they are at higher risk for developing a melanoma. However, most moles never turn into melanoma.
Skin cysts are fluid-filled lumps under the skin which are usually yellow or white with a small dark spot in the middle. Many cysts cause no symptoms and may even go away on their own and reoccur. Treatment usually involves surgical draining of the cyst or surgical removal of the cyst.
Epidermoid cysts are firm, flesh-colored nodules in the top layer of skin that appear on the face, neck and trunk of young and middle-aged people. They are filled with dead skin cells. They usually cause no symptoms, unless they become infected. The cause is not known, but they tend to run in families and can be caused by trauma, or a blocked pore and when infected they can look like a pimple.
Pilar cysts are a type of epidermoid cyst that forms in the hair follicles and is usually found on the scalp. They are more common in women and have a genetic component.
Sebaceous cysts are fluid-filled movable cysts or lumps found on the ears, neck, face, scalp and upper body that arise in the sebaceous (oil) glands. These cysts are filled with sebum (a yellow oily material produced by the sebaceous glands to keep the skin and hair moisturized and protect the skin from infections.) They can block the gland and grow. If they become infected, they can be punctured to release the trapped sebum, and treated with antibiotics.
Cherry angiomas are benign overgrowths of capillaries (small blood vessels). They typically affect people over the age of 30 and multiply with age. They are bright red flat or slightly raised and commonly found on the trunk, extremities, face, chest and neck. They are harmless and cause no symptoms, but can bleed if picked.
Skin tags are on flesh-colored to brown soft growths on a stalk, usually found on the neck, under the arms and in the groin. They are harmless but can become irritated by clothing and jewelry.
Milia are small white and yellow cystic growths on the face. They are asymptomatic, but can be a cosmetic nuisance. In older children and adults, they can develop from occlusive products as well as acne, sun damage, and an accumulation of dead skin cells.
Most skin growths are harmless, cause no symptoms and do not require treatment. If a skin growth causes symptoms, it’s time to consult your dermatologist. It is important to see an expert to differentiate moles from melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. When you are concerned about a skin growth contact Dr. Zeena a board-certified dermatologist in New Orleans, Louisiana.