Skin Growths

Abnormal skin growths and abnormal pigmentation of the skin may be present at birth, or develop later in life. Although harmless in most cases, skin growth and pigmentation disorders should be monitored for any changes that may indicate a development of cancerous skin cells.

There are many types of skin growths and pigmentation disorders that require dermatological care.


Birthmarks are areas of discolored and/or raised skin that are apparent at birth or within a few weeks of birth. Birthmarks are made up of malformed pigment cells or blood vessels. About 10 in every 100 babies have vascular birthmarks (birthmarks made up of blood vessels).

Although the cause of birthmarks is not known, most of them are benign (non-cancerous) and do not require treatment. Babies with birthmarks should be examined and diagnosed by a physician.

Types of birthmarks include flat, non-elevated, hemangioma and nevus flammeus or port-wine. Of these types, the most common type needing treatment are the port-wine marks as they may present eye problems based on location on the face.


These small, firm, red or brown bumps are caused by an accumulation of fibroblasts (soft tissue cells under the skin). They often occur on the legs and may itch. Dermatofibromas can be surgically removed if they become painful or itchy.

Dermoid Cyst

This type of cyst is a benign tumor which is made up of hairs, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands. Some internal dermoid tumors may even contain cartilage, bone fragments, and teeth. Dermoid cysts may be removed surgically for cosmetic reasons.


These round, flesh-colored growths have a crater that contains a pasty material. These growths tend to appear on the face, forearm, or back of the hand. They usually disappear after a couple of months, but may leave scars. Treatment usually includes a skin biopsy to rule out skin cancer. Other treatment may include surgical removal and/or injections of corticosteroids or fluorouracil.


These round or oval lumps under the skin are caused by fatty deposits. Lipomas are more common in women and tend to appear on the forearms, torso, and back of the neck. Lipomas are generally harmless, but if the lipoma changes shape, contact your dermatologist to make an appointment to perform a biopsy. Treatment may include removal by surgery.

Skin Tags

These common, soft, flesh-colored skin flaps are typically found on the neck, armpits or groin. If the skin tags are irritated, or a patient wants them removed for cosmetic reasons, treatment may include freezing the tags with liquid nitrogen or surgery.