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Lumps / Bumps / Cysts

Hundreds of different lumps, bumps and cysts associated with the skin can develop at any time. Generally, most of these are painless and cause no harm. The following list provides more detailed information about the most common ones:

Dermatofibromas
Characteristics

  • Generally benign, brown, purple or red growth
  • Commonly occurs on arms and legs
  • Contain scar tissue and feel like hard lumps
  • Can feel itchy, tender and sometimes painful

Treatment

  • Usually resolves without treatment
  • When necessary, removed often via surgical excision or freezing with liquid nitrogen

Epidermoid Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts)
Characteristics

  • Small, round bumps, often white or yellow
  • Develop from blocked oil glands
  • Normally found on the face, neck, back, trunk and genitals
  • Usually benign; occasionally leads to basal or squamous cell skin cancers
  • Become red and tender when infected
  • Produces a thick, yellow discharge if squeezed

Treatment

  • Antibiotics for any underlying infection
  • Removal of the discharge and the sac that forms the cyst by a dermatologist to prevent recurrence
  • Laser surgery for sensitive skin areas, such as on the face

Folliculitis
Characteristics

  • Red pimples that form in areas with hair
  • Inflammation of the hair follicles
  • Caused by infection, chemicals, or physical irritation (i.e. shaving, fabrics)
  • More likely in diabetics, the obese or anyone with a compromised immune system

Treatment

  • Topical antibiotics
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Antifungal medications
  • Preventing further damage

Keratoacanthoma
Characteristics

  • Dome-shaped, thick, red growths with craters in the center
  • Often triggered by minor skin injuries like cuts or bites
  • Ultraviolet radiation from the sun increases your odds

Treatment

  • Cryotherapy, freezing off with liquid nitrogen
  • Curettage, surgical removal by cutting out or scraping off

Keratosis Pilaris
Characteristics

  • Small, rough, red or white bumps
  • Do not typically itch or hurt
  • Often worse when the skin gets dry, like in winter or low-humidity climates

Treatment

  • Doesn’t usually need treatment
  • Typically resolves on their own by age 30
  • Intensive moisturizing first recommendation for treatment
  • Medicated creams with urea or alpha-hydroxy acids suggested in more serious cases

Lipomas
Characteristics

  • Subcutaneous nodules or tumors made of soft, fatty tissue
  • Usually benign and slow growing
  • Usually found on the trunk, shoulders, and neck
  • May appear as single spots or in groups
  • Generally painless, unless it putting pressure on a nerve

Treatment

  • No treatment unless it causes cosmetic concerns or compresses surrounding tissue
  • Easily removed by excision

Neurofibromas
Characteristics

  • Soft, fleshy growths occurring on/or under the skin
  • Generally slow growing, benign and painless
  • May produce an electrical-like shock when touched
  • Any pain may signal a need for medical treatment

Treatment

  • Usually requires no treatment, especially if no symptoms develop
  • Can be surgically removed if it aggravates a nerve

Skin Cysts
Characteristics

  • Closed pockets of tissue that can contain pus or fluid
  • May develop on any area of skin
  • Smooth when touched; like a pea underneath the surface
  • Generally, painless, slow growing and benign
  • Needs medical attention only in cases of infection or inflammation

Treatment

  • Often needs no treatment and will disappear by itself
  • Can be drained by a doctor
  • An injection of cortisone will cause inflamed cysts to shrivel

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