Skin growths can be a source of both confusion and concern. Many people don’t know the difference between malignant and benign skin growths, or how they can be treated safely and effectively. The team at Arlington Dermatology in Rolling Meadows has put together this guide to help you understand the different types of skin growths, how to detect them, and when to seek medical help.
What Are Skin Growths?
Skin growths are any changes in size or shape that appear on your skin. This includes moles, warts, skin tags, seborrheic keratoses (SKs), actinic keratoses (AKs), melanomas, basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). These growths can range in size from very small to quite large—some may even cover entire areas of your body—and they may vary in color from pink or red to dark brown or black.
Malignant vs Benign
Of these various types of skin growths, only melanoma, BCCs and SCCs are considered malignant; the others are all benign. Malignant skin cancers can spread throughout the body if left untreated, while benign ones will remain localized to the area where they originated. It is important to remember that not all malignant skin cancers are deadly; however, any type of cancer should be taken seriously and addressed immediately by a qualified medical professional.
Types of Malignant Skin Growths
Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer because it can spread quickly throughout the body if left untreated. BCCs typically look like open sores or scaly patches on the outermost layer of skin; they often appear on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, or hands. SCCs also appear as patches but tend to have raised edges and often form on parts of the body that have been previously burned by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure or tanning beds.
Types of Benign Skin Growths
Benign skin growths refer to any type of growth occurring on the surface of the skin that is not cancerous. These skin growths can take a variety of forms such as:
- Moles: Small dark spots that appear anywhere on the body; they often begin forming during childhood and adolescence but may also develop later in life.
- Warts: Rough bumps caused by viruses; they most commonly appear on hands and feet but can occur anywhere on the body.
- Seborrheic Keratoses: Look like warts but tend to be larger and often have a “stuck-on” appearance due to their thicker texture; they also tend to form more frequently with age.
- Actinic Keratoses: Scaly patches that usually form due to long-term sun exposure; they typically occur on sun-exposed areas such as arms and faces but may also form elsewhere on the body.
- Skin Tags: Small pieces of flesh attached by a narrow stalk that typically form around eyes and necks but can occur elsewhere as well.
Depending on the type of benign skin growth, they can be removed using special treatments such as cryotherapy or surgical removal or simply monitored by a dermatologist to ensure they do not become harmful over time.
How Are Skin Growths Treated and Diagnosed?
The first step in treating a skin growth is having it properly diagnosed by a dermatologist. We will be able to determine what type of growth it is, as well as recommend a treatment plan that is best for your needs. Depending on the type of growth, treatment may involve surgical removal, freezing it off (cryotherapy), or using creams to lighten its appearance. Contact Arlington Dermatology in Rolling Meadows, IL today at 847-392-5440 to schedule an appointment!