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Overview of Skin Growths

By

Denise M. Aaron

, MD, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

Cells of the skin and underlying tissue may accumulate and cause growths. Growths may be raised or flat and range in color Color Changes in the Skin Doctors use specific terms to describe various types of marks and growths on the skin. Some skin disorders and infections can cause color changes in the skin. (See also Structure and Function... read more Color Changes in the Skin from dark brown or black to skin-colored to red. They may be present at birth or develop later.

When the growth is controlled and the cells do not spread to other parts of the body, the skin growth (tumor) is noncancerous (benign). When the growth is uncontrolled, the tumor is cancerous (malignant), and the cells invade normal tissue and may even spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Most skin growths are noncancerous. However, people should see a doctor to determine whether a growth is skin cancer Overview of Skin Cancer Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Skin cancer is most common among people who work or play sports outside and among sunbathers. Fair-skinned people are particularly susceptible... read more . Noncancerous skin growths are often more of a cosmetic problem than anything else.

Causes of Skin Growths

Diagnosis of Skin Growths

  • Examination of the skin

  • Sometimes biopsy

Doctors are often able to recognize skin growths by examining the skin.

Treatment of Skin Growths

  • Treatment depends on type of growth

Some skin growths are not treated and go away on their own.

Noncancerous skin growths that are bothersome and that do not go away on their own may be removed. Some growths are removed with an electric needle or scalpel. Other growths are removed with lasers or by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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