Skin tags, sebaceous hyperplasia, seborrheic keratoses, milia, sebaceous cysts, and syringomas are a few of the very common benign growths that people get as they age.
Our skin is the largest organ of the body and is subjected to many internal and external abuses. So it is not surprising that over time the skin develops a variety of innocent lumps and bumps, some of which may be cysts and growths. These lumps and bumps are many and varied, and are often tagged with long medical names that are impossible to pronounce. Suffice it to say that you do not have to live with white, brown, or red appendages that may protrude from your skin. They are usually easy to remove, particularly now that target specific lasers have been developed. Common benign lesions that are not pre-cancerous or cancerous may include: acrochordons (skin tags), milia, seborrheic keratoses, syringomas, sebaceous cysts, and sebaceous hyperplasia.
Benign cysts and growths such as skin tags and seborrheic keratoses are considered to be cosmetic in nature therefore removal of these lesions is the responsibility of the patient. The cost varies on the type of lesion, the number of lesions, and the treatment recommended.
“Skin tags” perfectly describes the little lesions that grow out from the skin. Skin tags are usually the same colour as the surrounding skin although they may be lighter in colour or may be slightly pigmented giving a tanned appearance. The medical term for a skin tag is achrochordon. The skin has a tendency to grow in the direction of stress so skin tags develop in areas of multi-dimensional movement such as the armpits, groin, and around the neck.
This is because the skin does not “know” which way to grow so it simply grows out. The tendency to develop skin tags is inherited. They are harmless and never become cancerous or malignant. At times, a skin tag may become sore from rubbing against clothing or jewelry. While annoying, there is no reason for concern.
Skin tags usually do not grow back once removed. However, it is possible that new skin tags can appear in the same area where one was previously removed.
Milia are common, harmless, miniature oil gland cysts which can appear anytime during life. They may occur when the pores become plugged with creams, but may also occur on their own.
Milia never become malignant. They can become larger, and sometime become annoying because of their cosmetic appearance, but do not present any concern medically.
Seborrheic keratoses are harmless, common skin growths that may first appear during adult life. As time goes by, more growths can appear. Some people have a very large number of them. Seborrheic keratoses may appear on both covered and uncovered parts of the body; they are not caused by sunlight. The tendency to develop seborrheic keratoses is inherited.
Seborrheic keratoses never become malignant. They begin as slightly raised, light brown, red or white spots. They gradually thicken and take on a rough, wart-like surface and with time they may slowly become darker and may turn black. These color changes are harmless. Seborrheic keratoses are superficial and look as if they were stuck on the skin.
A sebaceous cyst forms when an oil gland ruptures in the second layer of the skin and becomes surrounded by scar tissue. These dome-shaped protuberances commonly appear in groups on the skin but may be solitary. They enlarge slowly and may become inflamed and tender from time to time.
Pilar cysts are similar to sebaceous cysts. They appear in multiples on the scalp and are common in families.
Sebaceous hyperplasia treatment consists or removing them or vaporizing them with a carbon dioxide resurfacing laser. After removal, the treatment site is raw and red. It may take several months for the redness to fade. After seven days, make-up can be applied to cover the redness until it fades. Sebaceous hyperplasia may return or push to the surface requiring another treatment. In general, sebaceous hyperplasia are not treated by excision because it might leave an unsightly scar. Electrodessication can also be tried but the carbon dioxide laser is a more precise method of ablating these benign yet common skin lesions.
Other traditional treatments include cryosurgery, electrodessication, curettage, topical trichloroacetic/bichloroacetic acid and shave excision. There are also some experimental modalities such as nanosecond pulsed electric field treatments.
Do you have another question that wasn’t addressed here? Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have!