Skin Growths

Submitted by Patrick Hatfield on Sat, 05/15/2021 - 11:56 am

The skin is our largest organ.  There are many things that can grow on our skin’s surface that may or may not be harmful.  Making sure to check on anything that grows on the skin’s surface is important and knowing what to look for is the key.

Moles

A mole is just a cluster of skin cells that are usually brown, black, and some are even skin-colored.  Most moles turn up before your 20s. Moles can be dangerous if you notice that they change color, shape, or even size.  These changes could mean the mole is cancerous and if so, it should be removed.

Cancerous Moles

Your doctor will look over your mole and determine if it looks abnormal.  If it does look abnormal, they will usually take a biopsy and have it tested.  If the biopsy comes back positive for cancer cells, the mole and the skin surrounding it will have to be removed.  The mole can be removed by surgical excision, where the mole is cut out, including some healthy skin around it and then stitched close.  It can also be removed by surgical shaving, where the mole is shaved off and some of the healthy layers underneath the mole.  The only risk is usually a scar at the excision area.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are small flaps of flesh-colored skin that has a small stalk connected to the base.  These skin tags are often found in areas where skin rubs, like armpits, groin, neck, and eyelids.  Those with diabetes, overweight, or who are pregnant are often at a higher risk for skin tags.

Skin Tag Removal

Most skin tags are completely benign and not cancerous.  However, skin tags can still be annoying and may need removed.  It can be removed by snipping it with special scissors after numbing the area.  It can also be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen.  The skin tag will fall off on its own about two weeks after the freezing treatment.  It can also be burnt off with an electrode that sends current into the skin growth, causing the skin tag to fall off.

Seborrheic Keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses are brown or black wart-like spots that are often found on middle-aged people.  They may appear round or oval in shape and they look like they are stuck on the skin.  These growths on the skin are not harmful and can be removed for cosmetic reasons by freezing.

Pyogenic Granulomas

Pyogenic granulomas are red, brown or blue raised marks caused by excessive growth of capillaries and swelling.   They often disappear without the need for treatment, but if they do not go away the treatment is often electrodessication of the base.

Lipomas

Lipomas are easily movable fatty tissue lumps found directly under the skin.  They are round or oval in shape and are more common in women than men.  They are most commonly found on the torso, back or neck. Biopsies may be necessary and if they are cancerous then you may need to have them removed.