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Moles and Growths

Appearing on, or just below, the surface of the skin at any time from birth through adulthood, most growths on the skin can be classified as either moles, cysts or age spots. These growths are generally harmless, although in some cases they can develop and lead to more serious conditions, including skin cancer.

Small pieces of skin that protrude from the surface are known as skin tags. They are sometimes mistaken for growths that look like warts but they are not infectious or contagious. Birthmarks appear, as the name suggests, at birth or soon afterwards. They are most usually harmless but can be cosmetically undesirable or lead to an underlying problem if they grow rapidly.

When people encounter moles, cysts, skin tags and birthmarks they may be worried about cancer growth or something more severe than a primary skin lesion. The fact is that these conditions rarely progress beyond being benign skin lesions. However, if you notice any changes occurring in or around your skin blemish it would be wise to consult a skin expert.

It is important to pay close attention to any moles and growths you notice and consult the skin experts at Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery Center to determine if treatment is required.

Moles

Beneath the top layer of your skin are specialized cells called melanocytes. These produce a pigment called melanin in response to exposure from ultraviolet light and are the reason that your skin tans in the sun. Melanin is important because it serves to protect your skin from sun damage. People with naturally dark skin produce more melanin than people with fair skin.

, Moles and Growths

It is not unusual for melanocytes to grow and develop in small groups or clusters. When they do, they appear as a darkened spot or mole, also known as a nevus. Moles are very common and almost always non-cancerous. They can be flat (known as a junctional nevus) or raised (compound nevus) and are usually smaller than a pencil eraser with clearly-defined edges. Colors range from pink to brown or black and the overall shape is round or oval.

Moles are clearly most noticeable on the face or scalp but can be present anywhere on your skin. Moles that are uniform in color are usually nothing to worry about. They may be present on your baby’s skin at birth and new moles will probably appear throughout their childhood. Again, these are unlikely to be problematic. Existing moles on women may darken during pregnancy as a response to hormonal changes. This is perfectly normal and harmless.

Aside from pregnancy, a change in the color of your mole is something to be checked. If your mole changes in color or shape, or shows signs of damage such as crusting, weeping or even bleeding, then you should ask a skin specialist to take a look at it. Moles that are itchy, moles that don’t look like the others on your skin, or new moles that suddenly appear in adulthood should all be investigated.

Moles that change in this manner can be cancerous and may be a melanoma. Not all melanomas will arise from moles, but many do begin at or near the site of a mole or other dark spot on the skin.

One in fifty people will be diagnosed with melanoma at some point in their life. The actual level of risk varies based on ethnicity: fair-skinned people are 25 times more likely to develop melanoma than dark-complected people.

The cancer survival rate is excellent when melanoma is detected and treated early. If not caught at an early stage, melanoma can spread aggressively to other parts of the body.

Frequently Asked Questions About Benign Skin Growths

Can dry skin cause bumps?

Yes, there are several dry skin conditions that can cause skin bumps. A common cause is keratosis pilaris. It is best to see your skincare provider to properly diagnosis your skin condition.

Can I remove seborrheic keratosis myself?

No, even when you scratch these growths off at home they can recur.

Can keratosis become cancerous?

The term keratosis is a general term that is used with both benign and pre-cancerous skin conditions. It is best to see your skincare provider to properly diagnosis your skin condition.

Can you pick off seborrheic keratosis?

Some seborrheic keratoses are raised and can be picked off, but without removing the growth entirely they can grow back.

Can you prevent keratosis?

No, to some extent they are determined by your genetics. Proper sun protection can help to minimize them.

Can you scratch off actinic keratosis?

No. These are precancerous growths and if they are not entirely removed they will recur and can develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

How can you tell the difference between melanoma and seborrheic keratosis?

These growths need to be evaluated in the office. See your skincare provider to properly diagnose your skin condition.

How do you get rid of benign skin growth?

It depends on the growth type. Common removal techniques include snipping, shaving, and curettage.

How do you get rid of keratosis?

“Keratosis” is a general term that applies to both benign and precancerous lesions. It is best to see your skincare provider to properly diagnosis your skin condition and discuss removal options.

Is there a cream for seborrheic keratosis?

No. They must be removed by a procedure in the clinic.

Is there an over the counter treatment for seborrheic keratosis?

No. They must be removed by a procedure in the clinic.

Should I remove seborrheic keratosis?

No. They must be removed by a procedure in the clinic.

What are bumps on skin called?

It is best to see your skincare provider to properly diagnose your skin condition.

What are the different types of skin growths?

There are numerous types of skin growths. It is best to see your skincare provider to properly diagnose your skin condition.

What causes benign skin growths?

Many factors can cause skin growths including genetics and environmental factors.

What causes skin growths?

Many factors can cause skin growths including genetics and environmental factors.

What do cancerous skin growths look like?

Cancerous lesions have a variety of appearances. They can present as pigmented moles that have multiple colors or irregular edges, red lesions that are not healing, or bleeding or itching growths. Skin cancers can develop anywhere on the skin, in the eye, and in the mouth. It is best to see your skin healthcare provider to diagnose and treat any lesions you have questions about.

What does actinic keratosis look like?

They can have a variety of appearances. Generally, they are pink-red with a rough, sandpaper-like texture. They can also be pigmented or skin-colored.

What is the difference between actinic keratosis and seborrheic keratosis?

Actinic keratoses are pre cancerous lesions that develop from accumulated sun exposure. These require additional treatments. Seborrheic keratoses are benign-normal, healthy- growth resulting from genetics, friction, and sun exposure. These do not require additional treatments.

What triggers seborrheic keratosis?

Genetics more than anything. Sun exposure and friction to the site can trigger additional growth.

Treatment of Moles

Because most moles are completely harmless they do not require treatment, but some moles get irritated an so are removed. Moles that are surgically removed will generally not reappear. Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin experts can get rid of moles quickly with minimal pain and no downtime.

We recommend a yearly full body exam by a Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center skin expert who is trained to detect areas of concern on your skin. In addition, if you find a suspicious area on your skin where a mole has changed, contact us right away – we do have same-day appointments.

If a cancerous melanoma is suspected, a biopsy is performed for an accurate diagnosis. Skin cancers are referred to our Mohs Skin Cancer Center at Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center for removal.

Cysts

Sac-like growths that appear as domed bumps or nodules are generally known as cysts. They can be found throughout the body in joints and some internal organs. Cysts on the skin are referred to as epidermoid cysts. They can be present in babies and children but tend to appear over time in adulthood.

, Moles and Growths
, Moles and Growths

An epidermoid cyst develops as the result of disruption to the skin around the hair follicle where the skin cells form a discrete sac, coupled with build-up of a light brown protein known as keratin within the sac. Keratin is a natural protein that is the main structural constituent of hair. Cysts can also contain fluid or hair.

Although we still have much to learn about them, a number of factors are known to promote the formation of cysts. The most common is an association with acne vulgaris. Acne also affects the follicles of the skin and causes local skin damage. This promotes the formation of a closed sac in which a cyst can build.

Smoking is also believed by some to be a causative link, although the exact mechanism for this is unclear. Some people who develop cysts in middle age may in fact be suffering from pilar cysts (a specific type of cyst on the scalp). These have a genetic link where a dominant gene is passed down through the generations. Pilar cysts affect women more than men.

Cysts occur mostly on the face, eyelids, neck, ears and body. Although they pose no immediate threat and may even reduce over time, some people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Occasionally a cyst can become infected and cause sensitivity and pain as it places pressure on the surrounding skin and nerve endings.

Treatment of Cysts

Small cysts below the skin are, in general, completely harmless and do not require treatment. If a cyst becomes infected, your Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center skin expert may prescribe oral antibiotics to fight the infection, and may drain the contents of the cyst to relieve pressure and discomfort. However, the cyst may recur because the sac wall has not been removed.

Cysts can be surgically removed, and by removing the sac or cyst wall, they generally do not reappear.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cysts

Are bakers cysts painful?

Baker’s cysts can be painful, especially if they are growing larger.

Are cysts hereditary?

The ability to form cysts is hereditary. Body regions with higher density hair follicles and oil glands are more prone to cysts.

Are skin cysts dangerous?

Skin cysts are not dangerous, but can come with complications such as skin infection and scarring.

Can a cyst be hard like bone?

There are a variety of cysts ranging from soft to firm. Certain cysts, such as dermoid cysts, have such firm contents they can feel bony.

Can a cyst be mistaken for a tumor?

Cysts can occur on the skin and in internal organs, so some cysts can be mistaken for a tumor. Epidermal inclusion cysts have a characteristic, benign appearance, but It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Can a dermatologist remove a cyst?

Dermatologists can remove epidermal inclusion cysts and pilar cysts.

Can a sebaceous cyst go away on its own?

There are a variety of methods to treat cysts, but the only way to definitively remove a cyst is through a wide local excision.

Can a skin cyst turn into cancer?

This is very rare. It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Can an ultrasound tell the difference between a cyst and a tumor?

It can in certain cases. It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Can you pop a cyst?

If you think contents need to be drained, it is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Can you drain a cyst at home?

You should not stick a needle in or pop a sebaceous cyst at home. It's best to consult with your skincare provider instead.

Can melanoma look like a cyst?

It is uncommon for a melanoma to look like a cyst, but if you have any concerning skin lesion It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition

Do cysts grow bigger?

Cysts can grow bigger as the cystic lining fills with more contents over time.

Do cysts move under the skin?

Cysts are firm and slightly mobile under the skin surface.

Do you need stitches after cyst removal?

For a full cyst removal, or an excision, sutures are generally used to close the operative defect. It is best to consult the operating skincare professional to learn the details of the procedure they believe is best to treat your lesion.

Does Cyst Removal leave scar?

Cyst removal can leave a thin, linear scar.

How big can a cyst get?

Cysts have a wide range of potential sizes and can range from a few millimeters to high centimeters.

How can you tell a cyst from a tumor?

It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition. Cysts are more likely to be soft and slightly mobile, whereas tumors are more likely to be firm and immobile.

How do I get rid of cyst?

It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Is cyst a cancer?

Cysts are most commonly benign, non-cancerous growths.

Is cyst removal painful?

Cyst can be treated in a variety of ways , but removal generally entails a surgical excision that is performed under local anesthesia to prevent any discomfort beyond the initial injection.

What can happen if a cyst is left untreated?

A cyst may remain unchanged for years, but they can grow or rupture. Ruptured cysts become red and inflamed and may have a malodorous drainage.

What cancers cause cysts?

Generally cysts are a normal and benign finding, but there are certain conditions and syndromes that can lead to cyst formation, for example Gardner’s Syndrome. It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

What causes cysts on your privates?

Ingrown hairs are the most common cause of skin cysts in the groin. In females, clogged secretory glands can also form cysts in the groin.

What does a cyst feel like?

They are full but soft raised bumps in the skin.

What does a sebaceous cyst look like?

Cysts can be skin colored to pinkish. They are smooth, rounded bumps and may have a dark central pore.

What happens if you pop a cyst?

A cyst should not be popped or drained at home. Cystic debris (oil and dead skin cells) are in cystic sac but if the site is traumatized it can bleed or become infected. It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

What is cyst removal called?

A cyst is fully removed with a procedure called an excision.

What is inside a cyst?

The cystic lining holds sebaceous secretions and dead skin cells (a protein called keratin).

What is the fastest way to get rid of a cyst?

A surgical excision can remove the entire cystic sac in a short (generally 20 minute) procedure, but it is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

What kind of doctor can remove a cyst?

Dermatologists and general surgeons can remove skin cysts.

When should I be concerned about a cyst?

When a cyst becomes tender, grows rapidly, or started bleeding or draining it should be evaluated by a skincare professional.

Our medical professionals at Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center can remove cysts quickly with minimal pain and no downtime.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are very common and generally occur after midlife. As skin tags are usually harmless, people tend to have them removed for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons. Sometimes skin tags will be removed because of irritation where they catch on clothing or jewelry. Skin tags may also be removed because they interfere with routine skin care routines like shaving.

, Moles and Growths

The characteristic skin tag is a small protruding bag of skin which is generally no more than 1/6th of an inch across, although larger skin tags are possible. The skin tag is attached to the surrounding skin by a narrow neck or stalk known as a peduncle.

Skin tags are usually found on the neck, chest, back, armpits, under the breasts, or in the groin area. They are sometimes known as “cutaneous soft fibromas”.

It is not entirely certain what causes skin tags, but it is believed that areas where the skin is rubbed are more prone to skin tags. Certain individuals are also associated with an increased likelihood of skin tags. These include:

  • People who are overweight or obese – where skin tags are most likely to form between skin folds and creases,
  • Pregnant women – most likely due to the natural hormonal changes of pregnancy,
  • Individuals with diabetes – the exact mechanism is not known, but is thought to be due to the body’s resistance to insulin,
  • Illegal steroid use – steroids interfere with the body and muscles, causing the collagen fibers in the skin to bond, allowing skin tags to be formed,
  • People with the human papilloma virus (low-risk HPV 6 and 11) – the relationship between virus and skin tags is not fully known.

Treatment of Skin Tags

Skin tag removal is a quick and straightforward procedure. There are a number of published ‘home remedies’ for ridding yourself of skin tags, but many of these are ineffective or can lead to complications such as infection. Others are dangerous and extreme and can even make your skin look worse!

For peace of mind, we always recommend seeking professional help to make sure that your skin tags are professionally removed using sterile instruments in a safe environment.

Our skin experts at Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center can advise you about your skin tags and remove them for you.

Frequently Asked Questions on Skin Tags

How does Tea Tree Oil remove skin tags?

It does not; tea tree oil should not be used.

How long do skin tags last?

Skin tags are permanent unless they are removed.

How long does it take for Compound W to remove a skin tag?

Compound W should not be used to remove a skin tag.

How long until skin tags fall off after freezing?

If treated in a medical office skin tags should fall off 2-3 weeks after treatment.

Should I be worried about skin tags?

Generally, skin tags are a normal benign finding. If they are bleeding, growing rapidly, painful, or colored they should be evaluated by a skincare professional.

What acid is used to remove skin tags?

In a medical office, a surgical snip procedure is used to remove skin tags, not a topical application of acids

What are skin tags caused by?

To a certain extent, your ability to make skin takes is inherited. Friction can also play a role, so factors like clothing lines, weight, jewelry, and physical activity can play a role.

What causes skin tags around eyes?

Friction from blinking contributes to the formation of skin tags around the eyes.

What does a skin tag look like?

Skin-toned, soft, projected growth.

What does it mean when a skin tag hurts?

It generally means that the growth has been irritated or picked at. It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

What is the difference between a mole and a skin tag?

Moles are a genetically determined growth whereas skin tags are due to genetics and friction over the involved skin location

When should I worry about a skin tag?

If a skin tag is rapidly growing, bleeding, itching, or painful it is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Why am I suddenly getting lots of skin tags?

Weight gain, new clothing styles with increased rubbing of the skin, and increasing age can contribute to new skin tag formation. If there is any concern, it is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks aren’t always present at birth. Some, such as hemangiomas, will develop several weeks later. Most are permanent, but a few types fade as a child grows and the birthmark becomes less noticeable.

Café Au Lait Spot
, Moles and Growths
Congenital Nevus
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Hemangioma
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Port-Wine Stain
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Salmon Patches/Stork Bites
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Slate Gray Nevus
, Moles and Growths

There are two main processes that are responsible for birthmarks. The first occurs where blood vessels under the skin are found to be slightly malformed. These birthmarks are often red, purple or pink in colour. Birthmarks that carry more of a brown tint are due to clusters of pigment cells within the deeper layers of the skin. The process here is similar to that responsible for the formation of moles.

Birthmarks are common and usually harmless. Treatment is often carried out purely for cosmetic reasons. However, in some cases intervention is recommended if a birthmark is seen to be growing rapidly or changing in nature, or where there are indications of underlying disease.

Treatment of Birthmarks

Birthmarks usually require no intervention as they are harmless. The removal of some birthmarks requires simple surgery, but laser therapy is most effective in reducing the pigmentation of most birthmarks and provides good cosmetic results.

Your skin experts at Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center can advise you of the treatment options available for your birthmark and can treat you promptly with minimal disruption.

Frequently Asked Questions about Birthmarks

Are Birthmarks Genetic?

Yes

Can birthmarks appear at 6 months?

They can be present at birth or develop within the first few months of life.

Can birthmarks be lighter than your skin?

Some lesions present at birth can be lighter than your skin tone (ex: nevus anemicus), but there are a variety of other conditions that can present this way. It is best to see a board certified dermatologist to properly diagnose your skin condition.

Can birthmarks grow bigger?

Yes. It is normal for lesions to grow in size as the child grows. If it is growing at a faster rate it is best to see a board certified dermatologist to properly diagnose your skin condition.

Can birthmarks turn cancerous?

Some congenital lesions do have the potential to turn cancerous. Congenital nevi larger than 2 cm are particularly suspicious and are generally removed for this reason.

Can Brown birthmarks be removed?

There are a variety of methods of mole removal. It is best to see a board-certified dermatologist to properly diagnose and treat your skin condition.

Can laser remove birthmarks?

Some pigmented lesions are candidates for laser removal. It is best to see a board-certified dermatologist to properly diagnose and treat your skin condition.

Can moles be Birthmarks?

Birthmarks can be pigmented, like moles, or vascular.

Can you tattoo over Birthmarks?

Generally this is not recommended as it can hide changes in pigmentation that we watch for to assess the health of the birthmark. It is best to see a board certified dermatologist to properly diagnose your skin condition.

Do birthmarks go away?

Some lesions present at birth have the ability to resolve in time, but some lesions will remain present. It is best to see a board-certified dermatologist to properly diagnose your skin condition.

How can I lighten my birthmark?

There are many options available including laser treatments, topical bleaching creams, and surgical removal. It is best to consult with your provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

How do doctors remove birthmarks?

There are many options available including laser treatments, topical bleaching creams, and surgical removal. It is best to consult with your provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

How long does birthmark removal take?

The time requirement depends on the removal procedure that is used. There are many options available including laser treatments, topical bleaching creams, and surgical removal. It is best to consult with your skincare provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

Is a stork bite a hemangioma?

This is a vascular growth that is genetic. Traditionally they are at the base of the scalp but that can be located elsewhere.

Is Vitiligo a birthmark?

No. Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition. The size and location of lesions can change over time.

What causes a port wine birthmark?

These vascular growths are genetic.

What causes a stork bite birthmark?

These vascular growths are genetic.

What causes brown birthmarks?

These pigmented growths are genetic. Some brown birthmarks are related to underlying conditions and others are simply pigmented with no associated risks. It is best to consult with your provider on the diagnosis and management of your condition.

What does a hemangioma look like?

They can be small and flat or large and raised. They can vary in color from bright red, putple, or blue.

What is a Mongolian blue spot?

This is a genetic vascular lesion. It is also known as “congenital dermal melanosis.” It may resolve over time or persist for years.

What is a stork mark?

A vascular birthmark, also known as a nevus flammeus.

What is a vascular birthmark?

Vascular birthmarks are genetic and can have a variety of appearances. They can be flat or raised and can have a variety of shades (red, purple, or blue).

Whats the difference between a freckle and a birthmark?

Freckles are due to sun exposure and can become more numerous over time. Birthmarks are present at or soon after birth and do not become more numerous over time.

When should I get my birthmark checked?

If a spot is present at birth, the patient should be evaluated before they leave the hospital by the pediatrician and any specialist that may be necessary. Sites that develop within the first few months of life should be evaluated and monitored. The pediatrician will refer you to a dermatologist if they believe this is necessary.

When should I worry about a strawberry birthmark?

Vascular lesions should be evaluated when they are rapidly growing and when they are located in important locations, such as the eye, near the airway by the nose, mouth or throat, and near the groin.

Why do birthmarks grow hair?

Hair follicles grow hair and these hair follicles are located on the skin of the entire body except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Sometimes pigment on the skin around a hair follicle will also affect the hair follicle resulting in darker and/or thicker hair growth.

Why do people have birthmarks?

Birthmarks are genetic in nature.

Why is it called a stork bite?

These vascular lesions are generally located at the base of the scalp so it became a nice story to say this was the mark left on the skin by the stork carrying the baby to the parents.

 

Whether it’s a mole or a growth on your skin, our skin experts at Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center have the answer that you are looking for. Call at 330.725.0569 and book an appointment to see us.