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Any new lump or growth on the skin can be concerning. However, many skin growths are benign, meaning the growth is noncancerous. How can people know the difference between malignant and benign skin growths? Here’s what to know and when to see a dermatologist.
Perhaps the most common skin growths to pay attention to are moles. Moles are small, raised bumps in the skin, usually of a darker color than the surrounding skin. Some people are born with some moles. Moles can also be the result of sun exposure. Much of the time, moles are benign. However, if a mole is brand new, getting bigger, changing color, itching, or bleeding, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.
The word tumor can make anyone feel concerned. But a tumor is simply an abnormal mass of tissue. One common benign tumor is the lipoma. Lipomas often grow slowly and can vary in size from a few millimeters to 10 centimeters or bigger. Usually, these growths are not painful or uncomfortable. However, some patients may opt to have these growths removed by excision or liposuction.
Cysts are flesh-colored, firm growths, usually occurring on the face or upper body. These growths have a center and usually are filled with pus. These growths typically do not require dermatological treatment. However, people can opt to see a dermatologist for treatment to prevent cysts from forming. If a cyst breaks open, sometimes inflammation or infection can occur, in which case a doctor’s appointment is recommended.
Skin tags are small, flesh-colored growths commonly found on the neck or arms. Some people get more skin tags during pregnancy. Obesity is another risk factor for these growths. Any irritation from clothing or jewelry can cause symptoms to worsen. While skin tags are not dangerous, some people may want to have the growths removed. Typically, a simple snip excision will do the trick.
After a wound or injury, many people experience small, firm, fibrous growths on the skin called keloids. Keloids are more common in patients who have a darker complexion. These growths can be hard to remove. Steroid injections, later therapy, or silicone patches may help to flatten these growths.
Many skin growths are not an indication of any dangerous condition. However, because some skin growths can be cancerous, when in doubt, patients should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. These healthcare providers can help to provide a diagnosis and treatment options.