There are many different types of growths that can develop on the skin. While the majority of these are very common and harmless, they can look unsightly and affect a person’s self confidence, especially if they are on a part of the body that isn’t easily hidden, such as the face or hands.
A mole is a dark coloured growth on the skin, which is normally brown or black. Moles can be raised and can also have hairs on them. A mole is caused by melanocytes; these are cells which make the pigment that gives the skin its colour. When melanocytes grow in a cluster, instead of being spread out on the skin, this results in a mole. Moles can change in colour and size over time and can also change after exposure to the sun and during pregnancy.
Acrochordons, or skin tags, as they are more commonly known, are flesh-coloured growths which hang from the skin. They are usually small in size, no more than a few millimetres and they are very common, however they are particularly common in elderly people. They are most frequently found in areas where the skin rubs against skin or clothing, such as the neck, armpits and under the breasts. They can also develop on the eyelids. Skin tags are harmless and generally don’t cause any discomfort, however, if they are in an area where clothing or jewellery may rub against them, they may become irritated.
Warts are small lumps which can develop anywhere on the body but most commonly appear on the hands and feet. They are usually firm, raised bumps with a rough surface, however there are a number of different types of warts which vary in appearance, such as verrucas, which are flat and white with a black dot in the centre, and plane warts which are yellowish and tend to develop in clusters. Warts are not usually harmful but some, such as verrucas, can become painful.
Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a virus we all come into contact with throughout our lives. A wart is caused if we make skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has a wart (for example, by shaking hands) and it is more likely to occur if the skin is damaged or cut. When the virus enters the surface layers of the skin, it results in rapid growth of the skin cells in the affected area, which creates the wart.
Milia are tiny cysts filled with keratin. They commonly appear on the skin of the face as very small bumps with a white or yellowish colour. They can sometimes be mistaken for a small spot with a white head, but they are firm to the touch and can’t be squeezed like a spot.
Milia can affect all ages, but they are especially common in newborn babies – these are known as neonatal milia and they tend to clear up by themselves. Milia in adults will normally clear up on their own, however this can take longer.
It is not known what causes all types of milia, however in babies it is thought that they are caused by sweat glands which aren’t fully developed. Milia may also be caused by using certain types of skin creams, such as corticosteroid creams. They can also develop on areas of skin that have previously been damaged, such as through a burn or rash.
Skin growths Treatment
This treatment uses a fine probe which directs a small electric current into the blood vessel supplying the blemish, which causes the blemish to die and fall away. Depending on the number of blemishes, the size of blemish to be treated, more than one session may be required.