Lumps and bumps can appear on your skin – seemingly out of nowhere. Before you hit the panic button, take a deep breath and remember that not all skin lesions are dangerous.
Trinidad-based dermatologist Rachael Eckel, MD, the principal trainer for ZO® Skin Health in Europe, sheds some new light on a few of the more common benign skin lumps and bumps.
Sebaceous Cysts are noncancerous, closed pockets of oil on the skin. They usually feel like large peas and can develop as a result of infection or clogging of sebaceous (oil) glands. Sebaceous cysts typically grow slowly, are usually painless, and have a smooth appearance. If a sebaceous cyst is bothersome, it can be removed surgically. Occasionally, cysts become infected and require medical care. How can you tell? When a cyst becomes infected it usually grows rapidly, hurts, and the skin surrounding the area can become very warm to the touch and red. In these cases, your dermatologist may drain the cyst and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Sometimes steroid injections are also needed to cool inflammation.
Lentigines (liver spots) are freckles or age spots that occur on the arms, legs, and face or any sun-exposed area of the skin. They are various shades of brown and have a clearly-defined edge surrounded by normal-appearing skin and a flat surface. There are lasers and many bleaching creams available to help eliminate lentigos, but they are harmless. If you have a lentigo that starts to rapidly grow, change color, itch, or bleed see your doctor for evaluation. This may signal lentigo maligna, a form of the potentially fatal skin cancer melanoma.
Seborrheic Keratosis has a waxy brown, black, red or white appearance. These are rough lumps that can grow rapidly anywhere on the body. A Seborrheic Keratosis can appear suddenly, grow rapidly, be multi-colored and itch. They are harmless, but if bothersome, there are many ways to remove Seborrheic Keratosis. Most removal treatments involve lasers or excision. There is, however, much hope being pinned on an investigational topical product called A-101. It works by penetrating into the lesion and causing oxidative damage, which can ultimately result in the sloughing of the cells. Stay tuned.
Warts are viral-caused painless growths typically caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can be disfiguring and embarrassing and they can sometimes itch or become irritated. Your dermatologist has a whole tool box to address warts including “painting” them with cantharidin to cause a blister to form under the wart, killing it and cryotherapy (freezing) among others.
Skin Tags (acrochordon) are soft, skin-colored growths that hang from the surface of the skin on a thin piece of tissue. They typically appear the skin folds of the neck, armpits, and torso, beneath the breasts or in the genital area. They are harmless, but can become irritated if clothing or jewelry rubs against them. They are permanent unless you have them removed. There are many ways for a dermatologist to remove skin tags that become bothersome.
This is just a guide. There is no substitute for a visit with your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon to diagnose any skin condition. When in doubt, always check it out. If something on your skin is bothering you, there is no downside to scheduling a visit with your doctor to find out what you need to know.
To locate a ZO skincare specialist near you, visit https://zoskinhealth.com/zo-near-you