We all get lumps, bumps and marks on our skin. But, whilst it can be worrying to find a lump or mark, most of the time they are completely harmless.
Lumps, bumps and marks may be caused by several things such as a knock to the skin, or through natural ageing or pigmentation. We may be born with a harmless birthmark, and many of us will develop moles during our lifetime.
Most moles and red marks on our skin are not harmful and therefore do not need any treatment, so you should not be worried. But if you notice a new bump, a change to a mole or a red mark appears on your skin, then it's a good idea to speak to one of our dermatologists. As skin experts, they'll be able to examine your skin, put your mind at ease and suggest any treatments, if needed.
Here are some of the more common benign (non-malignant/non-cancerous) lumps and bumps found on the skin.
Seborrhoeic Keratoses Seborrhoeic keratoses are non-cancerous growths on the skin, which look like raised warts. They're often a brownish colour, so may be confused with moles, but can vary in colour from a light tan to black. They may occur on their own or in clusters and their size can vary from less than half a centimetre to a few centimetres in diameter. They're most often found on the chest or tummy and tend to be more common in older people. They also tend to run in families. They can sometimes be itchy or uncomfortable and may feel a bit rough, or crumble when scratched.
Seborrhoeic keratoses are caused by a build up of ordinary skin cells. They are most common in people over 40 and the majority of older people will have a few of them on their skin, although some younger people may get them too.
But, the good news is that they are not infectious and they never turn malignant (cancerous) and rarely need to be removed other than for cosmetic reasons.
When to take action Seborrhoeic keratoses do not become malignant, so there's no need for concern. But, if you're finding them uncomfortable or unsightly you may wish to speak to one of our dermatologists.
Treatment Seborrhoeic keratoses are usually only removed for cosmetic reasons, so you should not need any treatment. But, if you do choose to have them removed, then this can be done easily and quickly by freezing them (cryotherapy) or by scraping them off under a local anaesthetic (known as curettage). Our dermatologists will discuss this with you in detail and suggest the best approach for you.
Dermatofibroma A dermatofibroma is an overgrowth of the fibrous tissue within the dermis (the deeper of the two main layers of the skin). They're also known as histiocytomas.
They look like a pea-sized lump just below the top layers of the skin and are quite firm to the touch. They tend to form a little dimple when you try to squeeze them. They're brown in colour, but may have a darker rim around them and be slightly lighter in the middle. They're sometimes mistaken for moles or melanoma, but the good news is that they're harmless and will not turn into a cancer.
Dermatofibromas are most common in adults, particularly women, and usually appear on the arms or legs. Their cause is not clear, however they often seem to appear after a minor injury to the skin such as a prick from a thorn or an insect bite. They can itch and be painful when pressed, but removal is not recommended, as the scar is usually unsightly.
When to take action Dermatofibromas are not cancerous, but if you do find a new growth on your skin it's always a good idea to talk to one of our dermatologists to rule out malignancy and put your mind at rest.
Treatments Dermatofibromas may go away on their own, so treatment is rarely needed. But if you find them unsightly, or if they bleed when you shave that area of skin, then you may choose to have them removed. Removal is a simple procedure done under a local anaesthetic. However, if you wish to have them removed, you should keep in mind that you may be left with a scar that is just as unsightly as the original growth.
You can learn more about moles here.