New or changing lesions should be evaluated by a dermatology provider to ensure that you are not at risk for a skin cancer. However, as we age, we often get different benign growths that may come about and that are completely harmless. Here are some of the most common ones.
Common Benign Growths
Skin Tags or Acrochordons: These harmless small, flesh-colored to brown skin growths appear during adult life. The tendency to develop skin tags is hereditary, but almost everyone can develop them at some point. They are commonly seen with pregnancy and in areas of friction such as the neck, eyelids, underarms, groin or underneath the breasts. Occasionally, they can become inflamed, tender and even fall off by themselves. Skin tags can be removed in the office. Once they are removed, they rarely come back. Although, new growths may continue to develop throughout life.
Seborrheic Keratoses (SK’s): These common skin growths are pearl to brown-black in color, often raised and appear during adult life. The tendency to develop Seborrheic Keratoses can be hereditary. These growths are completely harmless, but they may become inflamed or irritated, itch or increase in size. Seborrheic Keratoses can easily be removed in the office.
Milia: These harmless white bumps are most often found on the face. They can appear in people of all ages. They are actually small cysts composed of dead skin cells trapped beneath the surface of the skin. In infants, milia disappear on their own. In adults, milia tend to persist. If you wish to have them removed, a simple extraction can be performed in the office. Your physician may also discuss preventative measures and other treatments for milia, such as alpha or beta hydroxy acid washes and retinoids.
Sebaceous Gland Hyperplasia (SGH): These yellowish white bumps usually appear on the face in adulthood. While the tendency to develop SGH is genetic, almost anyone can develop them. Without treatment the lesions will likely persist. Treatments include gentle destruction with a fine tip electric needle. Once treated, the lesions can recur and new lesions may continue to develop throughout life.
Angiomas: These are small red bumps that appear in adulthood. They can appear on any part of the body, but are most common on the trunk. While the tendency to develop angiomas is hereditary, anyone can develop them. Although benign and harmless, they can become bothersome or bleed if they become traumatized. Treatments include superficial surgical removal (with anesthesia), gentle destruction with a fine tip electric needle and laser treatments.
Dermatofibroma: A common benign growth most often found on the arms and legs of adults of unknown etiology. It can be removed if causing pain, bleeding or irritation. Surgical removal can be performed in the office using a local anesthetic. A scar always results from removal of dermatofibromas and this should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not you want to have it removed. Your provider can give you an idea of what type of scar might result from removal of your particular dermatofibroma.