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Brown seborrheic keratosis growing out of the skin

Skin Growths

What are all these different spots and growths on my skin?

This is a great question and one that I hear several times everyday. Our bodies are amazing, living, and growing things. As a consequence of this, our bodies change and some of these changes manifest on the skin. Over time, our bodies grow a variety of spots that may give us concern. The good news is that over 99% of the spots or growths I see in a day are benign and don't require any treatment. The sections below will cover a lot of the different types of growths we commonly see on patients. 

Wart-like growth called a seborrheic keratosis protruding from the skin

Seborrheic Keratosis

A seborrheic keratosis is an extremely common benign growth occurring on the skin. They occur on any body site except for the palms and soles.  The cause of these growths is unknown although they tend to run in families. People will refer to these any many things: age spots, barnacles, and warts. Some people only grow one or two while others may grow thousands. They can be flat or raised and a variety of colors including brown, tan, pink, or black. Treatment is not needed, but they can be treated if they are painful or for cosmetic reasons. 

Multiple bright red spots called cherry angiomas on the skin

Cherry angioma

Cherry angiomas are benign collections of blood vessels that appear on the skin. They are extremely common and most adult patients have at least one of these spots while others may develops hundreds. People will often refer to them as blood moles or red moles. They can be raised or flat and are typically bright red but can also appear purple or black.  Since they are benign, no treatment is required. They can be treated if desired for cosmetic reasons. Treatments include cauterizing them with an electric needle or laser treatment. 

Female with many brown moles growing on her neck and back

Moles

Moles (medically referred to as nevi) are benign collections of pigment producing cells. They can be present at birth or begin to appear in early childhood. Common moles do not need to be removed as they have very low risk of turning into cancer. If they develop irregular features such as abnormal shape, color, or significant change in size, they may need to be removed to make sure they aren't a skin cancer such as melanoma. They can be removed if they are painful or for cosmetic reasons. For more information, see our page on moles.

Many brown and tan spots or macules called solar lentigo or sun spot pictured on a face

Sun Spots

Sun spots are medically referred to as lentigo or lentigenes (plural). They are due to the skin producing increased amounts of pigment after sun exposure. Sun spots are not dangerous, but they are a sign of significant sun exposure and sun damage so patients with sun spots should be more closely watched by a dermatologist for signs of skin cancer. They can be treated with bleaching creams, chemical peels, or by freezing with liquid nitrogen.

Many growths protruding from the skin called skin tags located on the neck and upper chest

Skin Tags

Skin tags are benign growths most commonly appearing in areas subject to increased friction such as the neck, under the arms, groin, and eyelids. They are more common in patients who are overweight or diabetic. Skin tags do not require treatment but can be treated if desired. A common treatment includes freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen. Small skin tags may be snipped with scissors. Larger ones require numbing prior to being snipped off. Once skin tags are removed, they tend to reappear so additional treatments may be needed.

Doctor pinching or squeezing a sebaceous cyst on a patient’s skin

Cysts and Lipomas

Cysts and lipomas are the most common growths appearing under the skin. There are many different types of cysts. A true cyst consists of an actual walled-off sack containing various skin contents. Other cysts may simply be collections of inflamed tissue. Lipomas are benign growths of fat that appear under the skin. Both of these growths tend to have a genetic component with patients often reporting a parent also had the same types of growths. These growths may be removed surgically if they are large in size, growing, painful, or develop concerning features. 

A pink, scaly spot called an actinic keratosis picture on the skin

Actinic Keratosis

An actinic keratosis is referred to as a "pre-cancer" meaning that some of these growths will eventually turn into a skin cancer called a squamous cell carcinoma. They appear as small, pink spots with overlying white to yellow scale and  have a gritty texture like sandpaper. They are easier to feel than they are to see. Actinic keratoses (plural) are usually treated to prevent them from turning into cancer. They are most commonly treated by freezing them with liquid nitrogen, using chemical peels, or using specialized chemotherapy creams that destroy the growths. 

See a Board Certified Dermatologist today!

Portrait of Ryan Harris, MD

Dr. Ryan Harris, MD is a board certified dermatologist located in Meridian, Idaho who has over a decade of experience in evaluating all types of skin growths and cancers. He is skilled in removing unwanted or concerning growths while minimizing pain and optimizing cosmetic outcomes.  If you have any growths you are worried about or that bother you, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.

Close-up photo of melanoma showing irregular border, multi-colored growth with central loss of pigment

Skin Cancer

There are three main types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous. They appear as pink, shiny bumps that bleed. Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common and has some risk of spreading to other parts of the body. They appear as hard, scaly spots and are often painful. Melanoma is the least common but most deadly. They appear as irregular, multicolored spots that change in appearance. It is important to diagnose all skin cancers early, so schedule an appointment immediately if you have any concerning spots or growths. 

Wart-like growth called a seborrheic keratosis protruding from the skin

Seborrheic Keratosis

A seborrheic keratosis is an extremely common benign growth occurring on the skin. They occur on any body site except for the palms and soles.  The cause of these growths is unknown although they tend to run in families. People will refer to these any many things: age spots, barnacles, and warts. Some people only grow one or two while others may grow thousands. They can be flat or raised and a variety of colors including brown, tan, pink, or black. Treatment is not needed, but they can be treated if they are painful or for cosmetic reasons. 

Multiple bright red spots called cherry angiomas on the skin

Cherry Angioma

Cherry angiomas are benign collections of blood vessels that appear on the skin. They are extremely common and most adult patients have at least one of these spots while others may develops hundreds. People will often refer to them as blood moles or red moles. They can be raised or flat and are typically bright red but can also appear purple or black.  Since they are benign, no treatment is required. They can be treated if desired for cosmetic reasons. Treatments include cauterizing them with an electric needle or laser treatment. 

Female with many brown moles growing on her neck and back

Moles

Moles (medically referred to as nevi) are benign collections of pigment producing cells. They can be present at birth or begin to appear in early childhood. Common moles do not need to be removed as they have very low risk of turning into cancer. If they develop irregular features such as abnormal shape, color, or significant change in size, they may need to be removed to make sure they aren't a skin cancer such as melanoma. They can be removed if they are painful or for cosmetic reasons. For more information, see our page on moles.

Many brown and tan spots or macules called solar lentigo or sun spot pictured on a face

Sun Spots

Sun spots are medically referred to as lentigo or lentigenes (plural). They are due to the skin producing increased amounts of pigment after sun exposure. Sun spots are not dangerous, but they are a sign of significant sun exposure and sun damage so patients with sun spots should be more closely watched by a dermatologist for signs of skin cancer. They can be treated with bleaching creams, chemical peels, or by freezing with liquid nitrogen.

Many growths protruding from the skin called skin tags located on the neck and upper chest

Skin Tags

Skin tags are benign growths most commonly appearing in areas subject to increased friction such as the neck, under the arms, groin, and eyelids. They are more common in patients who are overweight or diabetic. Skin tags do not require treatment but can be treated if desired. A common treatment includes freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen. Small skin tags may be snipped with scissors. Larger ones require numbing prior to being snipped off. Once skin tags are removed, they tend to reappear so additional treatments may be needed.

Doctor pinching or squeezing a sebaceous cyst on a patient’s skin

Cysts and Lipomas

Cysts and lipomas are the most common growths appearing under the skin. There are many different types of cysts. A true cyst consists of an actual walled-off sack containing various skin contents. Other cysts may simply be collections of inflamed tissue. Lipomas are benign growths of fat that appear under the skin. Both of these growths tend to have a genetic component with patients often reporting a parent also had the same types of growths. These growths may be removed surgically if they are large in size, growing, painful, or develop concerning features. 

A pink, scaly spot called an actinic keratosis picture on the skin

Actinic Keratosis

An actinic keratosis is referred to as a "pre-cancer" meaning that some of these growths will eventually turn into a skin cancer called a squamous cell carcinoma. They appear as small, pink spots with overlying white to yellow scale and  have a gritty texture like sandpaper. They are easier to feel than they are to see. Actinic keratoses (plural) are usually treated to prevent them from turning into cancer. They are most commonly treated by freezing them with liquid nitrogen, using chemical peels, or using specialized chemotherapy creams that destroy the growths. 

Close-up photo of melanoma showing irregular border, multi-colored growth with central loss of pigment

Skin Cancers

There are three main types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous. They appear as pink, shiny bumps that bleed. Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common and has some risk of spreading to other parts of the body. They appear as hard, scaly spots and are often painful. Melanoma is the least common but most deadly. They appear as irregular, multicolored spots that change in appearance. It is important to diagnose all skin cancers early, so schedule an appointment immediately if you have any concerning spots or growths. 

What are all these different spots and growths on my skin?

That is a great question and one that I hear several times everyday. Our bodies are amazing, living, and growing things. As a consequence of this, our bodies change and some of these changes manifest in the skin. Over time, our bodies grow a variety of spots that may give us concern. The good news is that over 99% of the spots or growths I see in a day are benign and don't require any treatment. The sections below will cover a lot of the different types of growths we see on patients. 

What are these spots on my skin? 

This is a great question and one that I hear several times everyday. Our bodies are amazing, living, and growing things. As a consequence of this, our bodies change and some of these changes manifest in the skin. Over time, our bodies grow a variety of spots that may give us concern. The good news is that over 99% of the spots or growths I see in a day are benign and don't require any treatment. The sections below will cover a lot of the different types of growths we see on patients. 

See a Board Certified Dermatologist today!

See a Board Certified Dermatologist today!

Portrait of Ryan Harris, MD

Dr. Ryan Harris, MD is a board certified dermatologist located in Meridian, Idaho who has over a decade of experience in evaluating all types of skin growths and cancers. He is skilled in removing unwanted or concerning growths while minimizing pain and optimizing cosmetic outcomes.  If you have any growths you are worried about or that bother you, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.