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Medical Dermatology

Skin Growths

Noncancerous or benign skin growths come in many different shapes and forms. Skin growths may be flat or raised, colored or flesh-colored and may be caused by viruses, genetics and environmental factors. Below is a list of common skin growths treated by board-certified dermatologists at Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group.

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 if bothersome.

Epidermoid cysts

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 or inflamed.

Pilar cysts

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.

A lipoma is a superficial tumor of fat cells encased in a capsule. It grows between the skin and the underlying muscle. Lipomas are almost always benign, do not spread, grow slowly and are not cancerous. A lipoma can develop anywhere on the body but tends to develop on the head, neck, shoulders, and back. They are less common in the armpits, thighs and other parts of the body. About one percent of the US population is affected by lipomas. People aged 40-60 are often affected. Rarely a lipoma can be associated with certain genetic disorders.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia are small shiny, flesh-colored to yellow bumps. They are enlargements of oil glands, typically on the face, forehead and nose. They are common in middle-aged and elderly patients and are usually asymptomatic.

Seborrheic keratoses are common benign skin growths that affect people older than 30. 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.

Keloids are a type of raised scar composed of excessive scar tissue that develops at the site of a skin injury, regardless of the cause. However, in contrast to normal scar formation, keloid scars don’t stop growing and can invade healthy tissue beyond the area of the original wound.  Additionally, keloid scars can develop up to a year after surgery or injury. Keloid scarring can affect a patient’s quality of life due to itch, pain, and appearance.

Moles commonly appear  during childhood and adolescence. Moles are usually round, flat or slightly raised brown-colored lesions, but can be tan, red, black, pink, blue or colorless. Moles present since birth (congenital nevi) can grow hair. Moles can develop anywhere on the body, even under the fingernails, between the fingers and toes, and on the scalp. Most moles are benign, but certain features can raise suspicion for melanoma, a life-threatening form of skin cancer. If a mole is changing in size, color, shape, or having symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or itch it should be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist immediately.

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.

Many skin growths are harmless, cause no symptoms and do not require treatment. If a skin growth causes symptoms or changes, it’s time to consult your dermatologist. It is important to see an expert to differentiate moles from melanoma and other types of skin cancers. When you are concerned about a skin growth contact us for evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist. Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group aspires to be an industry leading dermatology group with expertise in skin growths and skin cancer.

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