What Are Benign Skin Growths?

Lifelong exposure to the sun can result in many different types of benign (noncancerous) growths on the skin by middle age and beyond. They include:

  • Actinic keratosis: These flat, scaly patches tend to appear on the face, ears, neck, scalp, arms and hands from sun exposure. They are considered pre-cancerous lesions.
  • Atypical moles: Moles are considered atypical when they are more than a half-inch across and have an irregular shape. Your physician is trained to recognize the difference between atypical moles and melanoma
  • Dermatofibromas: These small red or brown bumps appear on the legs, more commonly in women. They may itch.
  • Keratoacanthomas: These dome-shaped, flesh-colored growths may develop rapidly on the face, forearm or hand. If left untreated, they usually disappear on their own.
  • Lipomas: These fatty tumors are easily moved when palpated. They are often found on the back of the neck, abdomen and forearms and are more common in men.
  • Moles: Moles are usually small, dark brown spots caused by clusters of pigment-producing cells. They can be smooth or rough, flat or rounded, or may even change in appearance over time.
  • Pyogenic granulomas: After an injury, you may develop red, brown or bluish-black marks due to overgrowth of capillaries (small blood vessels) and swelling.
  • Seborrheic keratoses: These round or oval wart-like spots can be flesh colored, brown or black. They are usually flat or slightly raised and look like they were pasted on the skin.
  • Skin tags: These soft, tiny skin flaps are commonly found on the neck, armpits and groin. They may be related to metabolic syndrome and increased risk of heart disease.