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Skin Growths

Benign skin growths are non-cancerous tumors or abnormal cells that develop in the skin. They may be caused by a variety of factors such as genetics, age, sun exposure, and other environmental or lifestyle factors. Most benign skin growths are harmless and do not require treatment. However, some may cause pain or discomfort, be unsightly, interfere with daily activities and should be evaluated by Dr. Shagalov to determine the best course of action.

Common types of benign skin growths include moles, skin tags, warts, cysts, seborrheic keratoses (“age spots”), lipomas (fatty deposits), cherry angiomas (small red spots on the skin) and dermatofibromas (firm, raised bumps).

Common moles are often harmless. They are small, dark brown or black spots that develop in childhood and adolescence. They are caused by a cluster of pigmented skin cells and are often uniform in appearance and shape but can vary in size. Some contain hair follicles. Most people have up to 40 harmless moles. However, moles that have an uneven shape and multiple colors are considered atypical or dysplastic nevi and can be mistaken for melanoma and should be reported to Dr. Shagalov for further evaluation.

Skin tags are small, harmless raised skin growths on a stalk. They are usually flesh colored. They usually form in areas where there is friction between the skin and clothing such as on the neck, chest, armpits, groin and eyelids. They often develop with age and during pregnancy. Sometimes they are associated with metabolic syndrome, obesity, insulin resistance and high blood pressure.  In most cases, treatment is not necessary; however, some people may choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons or because they become irritated or bleed due to clothing or jewelry rubbing against them.

A wart is a small, noncancerous growth on the skin caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). They usually appear as rough, hard bumps that can be flesh-colored or darker than the surrounding skin. Warts are typically found on hands and feet but can also occur on other parts of the body. They are contagious and can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or object. Warts often resolve on their own within several months to several years but can also be removed with topical medications or surgical procedures.

Skin cysts are small, dome-shaped bumps that are filled with a substance called keratin. They usually form due to clogged oil glands or hair follicles and can occur anywhere on the body. Cysts may appear suddenly or slowly grow over time. They often feel soft to the touch, although some may become hard if they are infected. The most common types of skin cysts include epidermoid cysts, pilar cysts, steatocystoma multiplex and milia.

Seborrheic Kerastoses (SKs) are among the most common benign skin growths. They are found on the head, neck and chest and upper back of older people. They usually appear as brown, tan or black waxy lesions that can be scaly and raised.  Seborrheic keratoses do not need to be treated although sometimes they can become inflamed and itchy. They can also become unsightly and can easily be removed cosmetically.

A lipoma is a benign, soft tissue growth that can be found anywhere on the body. The cause is not known but they are inherited. They are composed of fat cells and typically appear as a soft lump beneath the skin. They usually range from pea-sized to several inches in diameter and are usually painless. Lipomas can be either superficial or deep and may appear solitary or in clusters. Most lipomas are harmless but in rare cases, they can grow large and affect function.

A cherry angioma is a small, benign growth on the skin that is composed of blood vessels. It typically appears as a bright red or purple bump on the face, neck or chest and can range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. They are most common in middle-aged adults, although they can occur at any age. The cause of cherry angiomas is unknown; however, exposure to certain chemicals, hormones or radiation may be factors. In rare cases, they may be associated with some medical conditions such as liver disease or diabetes. They are painless and don’t require treatment, but if they grow in size, shape or change color Dr. Shagalov should evaluate them. Cherry angiomas can be easily removed cosmetically with specialized lasers.

Dermatofibromas are common benign skin lesions and are usually found on the arms and legs. The majority of them cause no symptoms. They are most common in patients in their 20s to 40s and are more common in women. They are usually caused by minor trauma such as an insect bite, scratches or cuts. They usually look like small, firm bumps with a dimple or depression in the center and may be brown, red or purple.

When you or a loved one has concern about a skin growth, contact Miami’s leading medical dermatologist Dr. Devorah Shagalov to schedule a consultation. Dr. Shagalov is a board-certified dermatologist and a dual fellowship trained Mohs Surgeon and cosmetic dermatologist. Biscayne Dermatology is located in Midtown Miami on the border of Edgewater and Wynwood a few blocks from the Design District, Miami Beach, and Downtown Miami.


At a Glance

Dr. Devorah Shagalov

  • Double Board-Certified Dermatologist
  • Fellowship-Trained Mohs Micrographic Surgeon
  • Recipient of numerous dermatology awards
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