Skin growths are masses of cells that appear as growths
on the skin and usually look different in one or more ways
then the skin surrounding them. Mostly, skin growths are identified
by their darker color (sometimes turning black) as compared
to the normal skin. However, some of these growths may be
the same color as the skin. Some skin growths are congenital
(present at birth) while others appear later in life.
Malignant and Benign Skin Growths
Skin growths can broadly be divided into two main types: malignant
(cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous). The basic difference
between the two is the degree of control on the growing process.
In case of benign skin growths, the growth is controlled after
a certain size is reached (usually small) and it does not
spread to other parts of the body/skin. Malignant growths,
on the other hand, grow beyond control and start causing pain
and other annoying symptoms at some stage in their development.
Malignant skin growths also spread to other parts of the skin/body
by attacking normal tissues. They must be removed for saving
the patient’s health and even life while benign growths
are harmless and removed mostly for cosmetic reasons.
Types of Benign Skin Growths
A number of benign skin growths have been recognized by dermatologists.
Most of them are harmless and do not cause any annoying symptoms.
Some of them do cause a little irritation or, in some cases,
pain. Removal or treatment
of these skin growths may vary according to the nature and
condition of the skin growth. Main types of benign skin growths
include: dermatofibromas, dermoid cysts, freckles, keloids,
keratoacanthomas, lipomas, moles, pyogenic granulomas, seborrheic
keratoses, and skin
tags. Most or all of these are either removed surgically,
or treated with specialized medicine (creams, injections etc.)
for cosmetic reasons. Sometimes, they may be suspected of
growing into harmful growths, in which case their removal
becomes necessary. People having skin growths are advised
to see a dermatologist urgently if they note any change in
the color, size, or shape of a skin growth. Same hold for
growths that cause irritation, pain, or other disturbing symptoms.
Benign Moles and Melanoma
Research has shown that not all moles are benign; some of
them may change into malignant or cancerous growths, called
melanoma. This is more probable in case of larger moles (called
atypical moles), i.e. those that are more than half an inch
in diameter, and also for moles that are congenital (present
at birth). There are some important observations upon which
people having these moles need to urgently see their doctor.
One of these is the asymmetry of the mole i.e. when half of
the mole looks dissimilar to the other half. Also, if the
borders/edges of the mole are irregular in outline, it needs
immediate attention. Similarly, if the color of the mole is
not uniform (varies at places and/or with time) and/or if
the mole is unusually large, a doctor should be consulted
about it at the earliest.