Troubled by Skin Growths?
ANSWERS ABOUT SKIN GROWTHS
You become used to the even appearance and smooth feel of your skin. Then one day you see an unusual mark or feel a raised spot. You wonder, “Did this happen overnight, or did I just notice it?” Should you see a dermatologist? Yes! Dr. Aparna Ambay, board certified dermatologist at 360 Dermatology emphasizes that hundreds of conditions can result in skin growths. With careful screening and diagnosis techniques, she is able to determine the urgency of treatment and recommend options for aesthetic improvement. Some common skin growths include:
- Skin tags – These bits of hanging flesh are harmless, but often show up in numbers. You may want to have them removed for cosmetic reasons, or if they are irritated by shaving or clothing. Dr. Ambay treats them easily by freezing, cauterizing, or shaving. Usually no anesthetic is needed.
- Warts – Warts are small bumps caused by the human papilloma virus. They are not a health threat, but can be easily removed by a dermatologist if they cause embarrassment.
- Cysts – A cyst is a closed pocket filled with fluid. They are non-cancerous and usually painless. A cyst may form from a clogged gland or a foreign object (such as an earring). It grows slowly, feels smooth and you can move it under the skin. Many resolve without treatment, but Dr. Ambay treats persistent cysts by opening and draining, cortisone injection to shrink the bump, or surgical excision.
- Moles – Technically called “melanocyte nevus,” these pigmented spots may be small or large, flat or raised and nearly any color. Most moles are benign and painless. If they are an aesthetic concern or irritated by clothing or activity, Dr. Ambay can easily remove them cryogentically (freezing), with electrocautery, laser, or surgery. However, moles can be an indication of skin cancer. If moles are large, growing or changing, asymmetrical, or have an uneven border, Dr. Ambay will recommend a biopsy.
- Tumors – A tumor is an abnormal lump of tissue, solid or filled with fluid. Unlike a cyst, a tumor is firmly attached – you cannot move it freely under the skin. Tumors are often noncancerous, but should be examined by a physician and tested for risk of cancer.
- Skin cancers – Cancerous lesions may present as bumps or patches of discolored skin. They may itch or ooze, or appear harmless. Basal cell cancer is the most common and most treatable. Squamous cell is more acute and melanoma can be fatal. All cancer is serious.
Especially in a sunny climate like Tampa, it is vitally important to have annual dermatological examinations, including skin cancer screenings. It is always a good idea to check with Dr. Ambay if you have an unusual skin growth or one that causes you cosmetic concern.