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Growths on face pictures: Cysts, Skin Tags, Lumps, and More

Cysts, Skin Tags, Lumps, and More

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 09, 2021

A keloid is a bump of scar tissue that grows past a wound’s bounds. It may keep growing weeks after your skin heals. More common in dark skin, keloids can form anywhere, but often they’re on earlobes, shoulders, the upper back, chest, or cheeks. They’re not harmful, so if they don’t bug you, you can leave them alone. But if one is too big or itchy, you can have it treated or removed. To prevent them, avoid piercings or surgery you don’t need.

Skin tags are little growths of skin with a bulge at the end. They usually form in places where your skin rubs together, like your neck, armpits, or groin. For the most part, you don’t need to worry about them. But if they’re painful, bleeding, or irritated, show your doctor. They can freeze or cut them off or use a mild electric current to remove them. Don’t try to get rid of them yourself. That can cause bleeding or an infection.

These small, flesh-colored sacs under your skin are filled with keratin — a soft, cheese-like protein. The slow-growing bumps form when a hair follicle or oil gland is blocked or damaged. Most skin cysts are benign (not cancer) and won’t need treatment unless they hurt, leak, or bother you. But it’s best to have a doctor check them to rule out a more serious condition, especially if they get red, painful, or swollen.

There are a lot of things that can cause these itchy, swollen welts — an allergy, infection, sun, exercise, stress, or an illness. The bumps vary in size and can merge to form larger ones. Hives often fade within a day, but new ones can appear as the old ones go away. A bout may last days or weeks. If you know what triggers your hives, avoid it. A cool cloth or shower can soothe mild cases. Antihistamines or steroids help, too.

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, sometimes causes small, itchy bumps that may ooze fluid. It’s not clear exactly what causes this long-lasting condition, but genes probably play a role. It’s also linked to allergies and asthma. Doctors treat eczema with creams, pills, and shots to help ease the inflammation. You can help by keeping skin moist and avoiding things that trigger outbreaks, like stress or certain soaps.  

Warts can pop up on your hands, face, feet, and limbs. All are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), but different strains affect only certain body parts. You can pass them to others or a new area of skin by touch. Warts may go away on their own, but treatment stops them from spreading. Over-the-counter remedies can help, but see a doctor for warts that hurt, spread, itch, burn, bleed, or appear on your face or genitals.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae is an inflammatory response to shaving. Short hairs get “trapped” in the skin, causing breakouts and sometimes infection. It’s more common in men.  

Folliculitis happens when bacteria infect hair follicles, often on your neck, thighs, armpits, or buttocks. It causes small, red bumps or pimples. You may also get blisters, sores, and itchy or tender skin. To treat it, wash with a clean cloth and antibacterial soap. Your doctor can also prescribe antibiotics.


A dermatofibroma is a small, firm, reddish-brown bump that usually appears on your legs. It has nerves and blood vessels, so it can bleed if it’s damaged, like if you shave over it. It’s not clear what causes them, but you may get one after a minor injury like a bug bite. They’re harmless, but always let your doctor know about anything new on your skin. They can treat a dermatofibroma if it bothers you. It won’t go away on its own.

Small glands in your neck, armpits, or groin, called lymph nodes, are part of your immune system. When you’re fighting an infection, they can swell to pea-size lumps or larger. They get smaller as you get better. But tell a doctor if they’re swollen for 2 weeks or more, feel hard, grow fast, are close to your collarbone, or the skin over them is red. These, along with weight loss, night sweats, fever, or fatigue, may be signs of cancer.

These tiny, bright red spots or bumps on your skin are usually harmless. You might start seeing them in your 30s and 40s, and get more of them as you age. If one turns dark brown or black, tell your doctor so they can make sure it’s not skin cancer. In most cases, you won’t need treatment for cherry hemangiomas unless they’re irritated or bleeding. If you don’t like how they look, talk to your doctor about removing them.

When a protein called keratin plugs up your hair follicles, you can get small pointed pimples, a condition called keratosis pilaris. The sandpaper-like bumps usually form on upper arms, buttocks, and thighs. They’re white or red and don’t hurt, but may itch. The common condition is typically inherited, and often goes away as you get older. You don’t need treatment, but skin creams, a soak in a hot bath, and exfoliation may help.

Almost all adults have moles — flat or slightly raised round spots. They come in many colors, but they’re often brown or black. Most of the time, you don’t need to worry about them. But those that change in size, shape, or color could signal skin cancer. Show your doctor if a mole has an unusual shape, uneven edges, different colors, gets bigger, grows up from your skin, or bleeds, oozes, itches, hurts, or turns scaly.

These thick, rough bumps can look waxy or scaly, like they’re pasted on. You can get them anywhere on your skin. They may have a warty surface, but they aren’t contagious. Seborrheic keratosesstart small, but they can grow to more than an inch wide. Some itch, but most are painless and don’t need treatment. If you have one that looks like skin cancer, your doctor may remove it just to be safe.

If you have a round, moveable lump under your skin, it may be a lipoma. These fatty masses feel soft, doughy, or rubbery. They usually appear on your neck, shoulders, back, or arms. A doctor can recognize one just by looking at or feeling it. Most are harmless, but if one bothers you, a doctor can treat it with steroid shots, liposuction, or surgery. A lipoma that grows quickly or hurts may be cancer, so be sure to tell your doctor.


1)     Scott Camazine / Medical Images
2)     Jack Jerjian / Medical Images
3)     BSIP / Science Source
4)     SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Science Source
5)     SPL / Science Source
6)     CMUH / Science Source
7)     Army Medical Department / Wikipedia
8)    SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Science Source
9)     Dr. M.A. Ansary / Science Source
10)   Midasblenny / Wikipedia
11)   QuarterNotes / Wikipedia
12)   Experienced Skins / Getty Images
13)   DermPics Images / Science Source                                                                                                                                          14)   SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Science Source


American Academy of Dermatology: “Hives,”  “Moles,” “Seborrheic Keratoses,” “Skin of Color,” “Warts,” “Keloids,” “Hemangioma.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Swollen Glands.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Chronic Urticaria (Hives).”

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: “Hives (Urticaria).”

American Family Physician, March 2002.

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “Dermatofibroma,” “Folliculitis,” “Keratosis Pilaris.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Moles,” “Skin Tags and Cysts: When You Should Worry,” “Swollen Lymph Nodes.”

Indiana University Bloomington: “Folliculitis.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Keratosis Pilaris.”

Medscape: “Cherry Hemangioma.”

Mount Sinai Hospital: “Dermatofibroma,” “Keloid.”

NYU Langone Medical Center: “Acrochordons,” “Epidermal Cyst,” “Lipomas Involving Nerves,”  “Seborrheic Keratosis.”

Salam, G. American Family Physician, March 2002.

Thomas, M. International Journal of Trichology, October 2012.

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Lymphadenopathy.

UpToDate: “Pseudofolliculitis barbae.”

Mayo Clinic: “Atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Medline Plus: “Eczema.”

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What’s This Velvety Brown Growth on My Skin? Is It a Seborrheic Keratosis?

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on May 08, 2023

  • What Does It Look and Feel Like?
  • What Are the Causes?
  • When Should I See My Doctor?
  • What’s Removal Like?
  • Do Self-Tanners Affect It?

A seborrheic keratosis is a common, harmless growth on your skin. Doctors call it “benign,” which means it isn’t a sign of cancer. Like moles, a seborrheic keratosis happens when extra skin cells bunch up together on the top layer of skin. Unlike a mole, it won’t become cancerous. It can appear later in life, after about age 40. It’s most likely to happen on your face, scalp, chest, shoulders, belly, or back. It can show up anywhere except your palms and soles.

Often, your doctor can tell what a seborrheic keratosis is just by looking at it. If you’re worried that it could be cancer, or your doctor isn’t sure, they’ll do a biopsy to remove the growth and study it more closely.

Normally, it has a round or oval shape. It ranges from light tan to black in color. At first it looks and feels soft and smooth, like velvet. It might be about the size of a dime.

Over time, a seborrheic keratosis becomes scaly and thick, like melted candle wax that’s stuck to your skin. It can grow to be as large as a half-dollar coin.

It’s not painful. It can feel greasy, rough, or soft when you touch it.

It might itch. Sometimes it can rub against your clothes and get in the way of shaving and other things you do. Even though it can be annoying, it’s important not to scratch, pick, or rub the area. That can cause it to swell, bleed, or get infected. 

Doctors aren’t sure what causes seborrheic keratoses. So there’s no real way to prevent them.

The condition tends to run in families. It almost always happens later in life, especially after age 50. You’re more likely to have one if other people in your family have it too. It’s most common in people with light skin. It can appear during pregnancy, or if you’ve had hormone replacement therapy.

Some studies show sunlight might play a part. But these growths can show up with or without exposure to the sun, so we need more research to know exactly why they form.

They aren’t contagious. If you have one, it won’t spread to other people or to other parts of your body, though it is common to have not just one, but many. They usually don’t go away on their own.

Most of the time, a seborrheic keratosis won’t cause problems. But make an appointment if you notice any of the following:

  • It bothers you a lot, or becomes irritated or inflamed.
  • You notice lots of growths at once. Normally, they appear one or two at a time and increase in number.
  • It seems to change, or grow quickly.
  • It bleeds and doesn’t heal.

If any of these things happen, or if you just don’t like how a growth looks or feels on your skin, you can have it removed.

Start with your main doctor. They might refer you to a dermatologist – a skin specialist.

They’ll choose one of the following, simple ways to remove the growth, usually in their office or clinic.

  • Burning. This uses an electric current to burn away the seborrheic keratosis. It can take longer than other ways.
  • Freezing. Doctors called this “cryosurgery.” It uses super-cold liquid nitrogen to remove the growth. It might require several treatments if it’s very large or thick.
  • Laser. A harmless beam destroys the physical structure of the area.
  • Scraping. The doctor uses a special tool to raze it off. This is often done along with freezing or burning.

Most seborrheic keratoses don’t return after they’re removed. But a new one can still appear somewhere else on your body.

Sometimes removing one can make your skin a little lighter at that spot. It usually blends in better over time, but not always.

It’s normal for seborrheic keratoses to grow darker over time. But if you use an artificial tanning product that contains DHA, an omega-3 acid, it can change the color of the growths as well as the skin around them.

Some people who’ve used these products have seen seborrheic keratoses grow darker quickly. That’s because the skin absorbs the artificial tan pigments. Doctors have found that this kind of color change isn’t a sign of cancer.

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Outgrowths on the skin: types, description, treatment

The article was checked by a doctor: Salyamkina Elena Vladimirovna

Outgrowths on the skin: what they are

Neoplasms that develop from skin cells can be divided into benign, malignant, and potentially malignant.

Benign growths

The cells of benign tumors are structurally similar to normal cells. Such formations grow slowly, do not grow into the surrounding tissues and do not give metastases (distant tumor foci). Their types:

  • Lipoma. It is a tumor composed of mature fat cells. It grows slowly, can reach up to 20 cm in diameter. It does not cause pain. Lipoma has the appearance of a seal or a mobile node under the skin. The epidermis covering it is not changed: the skin is smooth, redness and ulcerative lesions are absent.

  • Papilloma. This is a tumor-like formation of viral origin in the form of a connective tissue papilla that occurs as a result of human infection with HPV (human papillomavirus). Often, papillomas are localized not only on the skin, but also on the mucous membranes.

  • Wart. This is a formation of a viral nature, which has the appearance of a rounded protruding growth. Warts have a rough surface, their color varies from flesh to grey-brown. Warts can be painful and bleed when injured.

  • Dermatofibroma. Formed by mature connective tissue fibers. It looks like a dense knot of gray-brown color, protruding above the surface of the skin. It can reach up to 5-6 cm in size.

It is also easy to confuse atheroma with a growth on the skin. Atheroma looks like a subcutaneous formation, but in fact it is a sebaceous gland cyst filled with fatty secretion.

Malignant (cancerous) growths

The elderly are more susceptible to the development of malignant neoplasms. The cells of such tumors are poorly differentiated; their structure is very different from the structure of healthy cells. Cancer growths grow into the surrounding tissues and easily metastasize, causing the growth of tumors in the internal organs. Their types:

  • Melanoma. This is a malignant tumor that develops from melanocytes – pigment cells of the skin. Melanoma is quite aggressive and quickly metastasizes to the lungs, liver, bones, and brain. The average size of melanoma is from a few mm to 3 cm. Its surface is often ulcerated.

  • Basalioma. A tumor that develops from the cells of the epidermis. It grows into neighboring tissues and destroys them, it is prone to recurrence, but unlike melanoma, it rarely metastasizes. Basalioma protrudes above the surface of the skin and has a dense structure.

  • Kaposi’s sarcoma (angioendothelioma). These are multiple malignant lesions of the dermis. Sarcoma manifests itself as bluish-red spots on the skin. Over time, they transform into tumor nodes.

    By what signs can the patient suspect that the formation on the skin is of a malignant nature: it bleeds, quickly increases in size and changes color.

    Borderline (precancerous) growths

    Precancerous neoplasms are called neoplasms, which, under the influence of external or internal factors, have a high tendency to malignant degeneration. Their types:

    • Senile keratoma. This is a single formation in the form of a rounded plaque of a reddish-brown hue. Most often localized on the face, neck, hands and forearms. Senile keratoma is prone to transformation into basalioma or squamous cell carcinoma.

    • Pigmented xeroderma. This is a hereditary tumor caused by increased sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet radiation. It occurs quite rarely. From the appearance of xeroderma pigmentosum, the development of the oncological process can take 10-15 years.

    • Bowen’s disease. This is a type of carcinoma (malignant tumor) that develops exclusively in the squamous cells of the epidermis. If the formation is not removed in time, squamous cell skin cancer will occur. Bowen’s disease looks like plaques of deep pink or red color with jagged edges. Their surface is covered with crusts or keratinized scales.

    Malignancy of potentially dangerous neoplasms is facilitated by their traumatic injuries, intense UV radiation, and hormonal disruptions.

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    If a neoplasm appears on the skin, you need to contact a dermatologist. He will conduct a dermatoscopy – an examination of the surface of the skin using a dermatoscope. The dermatoscope allows you to magnify the image by 10 times. If the results of dermatoscopy are poor, the patient is referred to an oncologist.

    Self-examination is of great importance in the early diagnosis of oncological tumors. The patient should be attentive to his condition. If old moles or papillomas suddenly begin to increase in size and change color, you should immediately consult a doctor.


    Get expert advice:

    • Dermatologist
    • Surgeon
    • Pediatric dermatologist

    The standard tactic for the treatment of growths on the skin is the removal of the affected area with partial excision of healthy tissues. Benign neoplasms are removed using electrocoagulation, radio wave scalpel, laser beams. Lipoma is often removed surgically. The doctor uses a scalpel, and then stitches. In malignant processes, surgical treatment is combined with chemotherapy, radiation therapy. The tissue sections removed during the operation are sent for histological examination.


    Specific prevention of malignant tumors on the skin does not exist. Patients with a large number of moles and a burdened family heredity should actively use creams with a UV filter when under the sun, try not to injure the neoplasms. To reduce the risk of oncogenic HPV infection, barrier contraceptives (condoms) should be used.


    Neoplasms on the skin, classification of skin lesions

    Dermatologist, Head of the Department of Dermatology Ekaterina Vladimirovna Krylova.

    Most people habitually call every dark and well-defined spot that appears on the skin – mole . Incomprehensible spots are usually called warts. Moreover, as a rule, such formations are treated lightly and very often they try to remove them on their own. But such an attitude towards skin neoplasms is at least wrong, and in some cases deadly for humans. After all, often with improper treatment, a neoplasm degenerates into a malignant tumor.

    In our clinic, before performing the removal of a skin neoplasm, whether it is mole , fibroma, seborrheic keratosis, papilloma, wart , condyloma, etc., the doctor dermatologist conducts the necessary dermatoscopic examinations, and, if necessary, cytological examinations . As a rule, a timely examination makes it possible to safely and timely diagnose a skin neoplasm.

    In addition to medical indications, the removal of neoplasms in our clinic can also be performed for aesthetic reasons. Very often, patients who have large or hanging neoplasms on the face come to our clinic, often hair grows from these formations. Moreover, depending on the size of the skin formation, the dermatologist of the clinic can recommend one of two options for (surgical) intervention: laser removal of neoplasms or surgical removal with a plastic suture. But regardless of the method, our specialists guarantee that there will be no scars or other marks on the skin of the patient.

    At Eva Clinic, all surgeries are performed under local anesthesia. Laser removal of neoplasms itself can be performed by different types of lasers: a diode laser or a CO2 laser.

    After the procedure, our doctors give all clients clear recommendations for caring for the wounds remaining after the removal of the neoplasm, and also often prescribe follow-up postoperative observations.

    Mole (nevus)

    See also: Mole removal.

    Pigmented (dark) skin formations are most often represented by nevi (mole). A mole can be on a variety of parts of the body. A mole located on open, sun-exposed areas of the skin is especially dangerous. If the mole began to bother: it increased in size, it began to itch, you should consult a doctor. Under no circumstances should any mole be removed on its own! The optimal treatment is laser removal of a mole (nevus). A dermatologist is a specialist who needs to be consulted. Eva clinic employs dermatologists – oncologists, specialists with additional education that allows the removal of a neoplasm at a highly professional level.

    Papillomavirus wart (papillomas)

    See also: Removal of papillomas.
    Papilloma (Papilloma) – synonym: keratotic papilloma, benign squamous keratosis. This is a benign neoplasm of squamous integumentary and transitional epithelium of presumably viral etiology. It is more often observed in the elderly and is characterized by slow development and a benign course. Treatment includes laser removal of human papillomavirus warts (papillomas).

    Common wart (Verrucae vulgares)

    See also: Removal of warts.
    Wart vulgaris is more often located on open areas of the body. Usually they affect the back of the hands, feet, fingers, in the periungual zone, sometimes they can be on the face, on the red border of the lips and even in the oral cavity. The wart is a rounded, dense, clearly defined, non-inflammatory nodules (1.0 – 10.0 mm) rising above the skin with an uneven rough or papillary surface covered with hyperkeratotic masses, grayish-yellow in color. The treatment of warts includes, in addition to the general one prescribed by the doctor, laser removal of warts.

    Plantar wart

    See also: Plantar wart removal.

    Plantar wart is a formation of yellowish or grayish color, usually single, less often – multiple (2-3), up to 2-3 cm in diameter, appearing on the foot in places of greatest pressure. These are deep, sharply painful papules, covered with thick horny layers, with loosening in the central part. Laser removal of plantar warts has some features that will be explained in detail before the procedure. Successful treatment of plantar warts requires 4-5 laser treatments, 1-2 weeks apart. The effectiveness of treatment – 96%.

    Flat (juvenile) wart
    Flat wart usually located on the face, back of the hands. As a rule, they are numerous and look like small (0.5–5.0 mm) flat, rounded or polygonal papules of normal color or a yellowish-brown hue, dense texture with a smooth surface, barely protruding above the level of the skin. Sometimes they tend to merge or are arranged in the form of stripes. Rarely injured and disturb the patient. Laser removal of warts is recommended. Thin crusts form at the site of laser removal, which disappear 3-6 days after treatment. There are practically no relapses.

    Molluscum contagiosum
    The disease is caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV), an unclassified type of smallpox virus. Two types of virus MCV-1 and MCV-2 have been identified. Type 1 causes 96.6% and type 2 3.4% of diseases. There is no relationship between the type of virus, the morphology of the eruptive elements, and their localization. It is exclusively a human disease. At the site of laser removal of molluscum contagiosum, thin crusts form, which disappear 3-6 days after treatment. Relapses are rare.

    Genital warts (Condylomatis acuminatem)

    See also: Removal of genital warts ital, pointed warts. They are small papillary papules on a thin stalk with a pointed surface, soft, filiform, flesh or pinkish in color, darkening with time. With prolonged existence, they branch, grow and merge, forming foci resembling a cockscomb. The route of infection is contact, mainly sexual. Treatment of genital warts, in addition to laser removal, necessarily includes general therapy.

    Angiofibroma (adenoma of Pringle’s sebaceous glands) is a benign tumor that occurs quite often and is characterized by a combination of vascular and fibrous connective tissue. In many respects, it is extremely close to dermatofibroma and is often considered together with it as a single disease. Angiofibroma of the skin has the appearance of a small (0.3-1.5 cm) well-demarcated node (usually solitary), more or less elevated above the surface of unchanged skin, pinkish, yellowish or brown in color, dense or elastic consistency.

    Seborrheic keratosis
    Seborrheic keratosis (Keratosis seborrheic) – synonym: seborrheic keratoma, seborrheic wart, senile wart. It is believed that this disease is hereditary, and that genetic factors play a role in its development. Seborrheic keratosis is more common in the elderly, but it is also common in young people, adolescents, and even children. At the beginning of the disease, the focus of seborrheic keratosis clinically looks like a small flat spot (0.5-1.0 cm in diameter) of a gray, yellowish or brownish color with sharply limited edges, usually oval or rounded.

    Papillomatous malformation
    In papillomatous malformation (nevus papillomatosus), the clinical picture is characterized by the appearance of warty papillomatous growths, found on almost any part of the skin, usually already in the first years of life. In some cases, the appearance of elements of a warty nevus may be preceded by various aggressive exogenous effects on the skin: mechanical trauma, burns of various nature, etc. There are two clinical forms of papillomatous malformation: limited and disseminated.

    Epidermal cyst
    Epidermal cyst is one of the most common forms of cysts. The clinical picture of the disease is characterized by the appearance of a tumor-like formation of rounded outlines, soft consistency, 0.5–5.0 cm in diameter (rarely larger), painless, somewhat protruding above the skin surface, mobile and not soldered to the surrounding tissues. Typical localization is the scalp, face, neck, chest. Much less often – limbs (described cases of detection even on the palms and soles), the vulva area.

    Acne (acne)
    Acne (acne) is a chronically relapsing skin disease mainly of young people, which is the result of hyperproduction of sebum and blockage of hyperplastic sebaceous glands with their subsequent inflammation. Acne can be: papular, conglobate, indurative, phlegmonous. Laser therapy is used in the complex treatment of acne, as an external therapy for the purpose of rapid resorption of the elements.

    Fibroma is a benign connective tissue tumor. In practice, a hard fibroma (fibroma durum) and a soft fibroma (fibroma molle pendulum) are distinguished in practice. A hard fibroma is clinically a limited-movable neoplasm of a dense consistency of pinkish or normal skin color with a smooth or slightly hyperkeratotic surface protruding above the skin surface. Typically, the size of the tumor is 0.5-1.5 cm, but can be larger. Fibroids up to 0.5 cm in size are treated in 1 session. Larger ones for 2-3 sessions, held at intervals of 1 week.

    This is a benign tumor-like formation that appears as a result of blockage of the duct of the sebaceous gland. The word is of Greek origin – atheroma, where athera means gruel, and ota – tumor. The popular name for atheroma is wen. Most often appears on the skin of the face, head, neck and back. Removal of atheroma with a laser is modern, painless, safe, and most importantly effective.


    See also: Laser removal of lipoma
    Lipoma, or as it is popularly called wen, is a benign tumor that forms in the layer of subcutaneous connective tissue. It comes from the Greek words lipos meaning fat and oma meaning tumor. Most often, lipoma can be found on the shoulders, back, hips. Laser removal of lipoma is a modern non-surgical technology that allows you to solve this problem as efficiently as possible.


    See also: laser scar removal
    Scars occur as a result of natural tissue regeneration after various injuries (surgical operations, cuts) and inflammation. Scars significantly worsen the appearance, and it is quite natural to want to get rid of them.