The Most Common Types Of Skin Growths

Written by Valerie Hanft, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on July 13, 2016 One Comment

common skin growths

There are many types of skin growths that can “pop up”.  Normal aging and years of exposure to UV rays can heighten the chances of growth developments on the skin. Genetics also play a role in the development of many growths.

These are the most common types of benign (noncancerous) skin growths, along with common treatment options:


Moles are skin growths that may be black, brown, or flesh-colored. They can appear alone or in groups anywhere on the skin. Most moles typically form before the age of 30 and can evolve over time, becoming raised, changing color, or slowly disappearing. It’s also common for hair to grow out of a mole.

Most moles are benign and pose no health concerns. However, it is important to routinely examine your moles for changes in size, shape, color, and height as that could be an indication that the mole is cancerous.

Moles can be surgically excised for both medical and cosmetic reasons.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are growths that look like small dangling papules or bumps. Most skin tags are typically small in size, around 1mm-5mm in diameter. While tags can form all over the skin, common areas of skin tag development include the eyelids, upper chest and neck, buttocks, armpits, and groin area.

There are a few safe and effective ways of removing skin tags, including cryosurgery (freezing the tag with liquid nitrogen), electrocautery (burning the tag off), or surgically cutting the tag.

Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratoses are black, brown, or yellow skin growths that often appear in groups and are flat to slightly raised. They often look like and are commonly mistaken for warts. Seborrheic keratoses are noncancerous skin growths that can form anywhere on the body.

Like skin tags, seborrheic keratoses can be removed surgically or through cryosurgery or electrocautery.


Warts are harmless skin growths caused by a virus. Warts can grow on any part of the body. Warts have a rough surface on which tiny, dark dots can often be seen. These dots are actually tiny blood vessels.

To date there is still no way to eliminate the virus that causes wart growth. However, individual warts can be removed through surgical excision, topical chemicals including immune agents, or freezing with liquid nitrogen.


Common to fair skin individuals, freckles are flat brown spots that appear on sun exposed skin, typically the face, décolletage, shoulders, and arms. Most individuals find that their freckles will become more prominent in the sunnier summer months and tend to fade in appearance during the winter.

Freckles are generally non-harmful, though they are an indication of potentially harmful overexposure to the sun and need to be regularly monitored.  In rare cases a freckle can transform into a cancerous lesion called lentigo maligna.

Treatment options for freckles include chemical peels, fading creams, and laser treatments.


Skin cysts are tiny pockets of fluid or keratin that slowly grow under the skin. Cysts can appear anywhere on the skin and are generally painless and non-harmful.

Cysts usually do not need to be addressed unless they become infected or inflamed. Should a cyst become infected it could require oral antibiotics, draining, or cortisone injections by a dermatologist.



Valerie Hanft, MD

Valerie Hanft, MD is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a member of the Travis County Medical Association. Dr. Hanft received her Dermatology specialty training at the University of Michigan. Her professional interests are in pediatric dermatology, clinical research and medical dermatology. Dr. Hanft sees patients at our Westlake location.

One Response to “The Most Common Types Of Skin Growths”

  1. Avatar Afton says:

    Gross 🙂 thanks for sharing lol

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