When you find a lump or a bump on the surface of your skin you may wonder… What is this? What caused it? How can I treat it? Here’s a simple guide to the most common lumps and bumps that are found on the skin and how to address them:
Cysts: They appear in the form of cystic acne on the face, but are also common the back, on the legs, and sometimes on the arms. Cysts are harmless and can result due to localized infections or clogging of sebaceous glands. Cysts cause a bumpy appearance of the skin and can feel painful due to an inflammatory response. Most cysts can be extracted or dissipate on their own, some cysts may need to be drained by a dermatologist through the use of a surgical lancet. Many cysts can be treated with localized cortisone shots to reduce inflammation.
Dermatofibromas: Harmless red, purple or brown growths that are similar to a mole but can appear overnight. Dermatofibromas can be painful and feel tender to the touch, sometimes they can be itchy. The growths can be surgically removed by a dermatologist or frozen with liquid nitrogen.
Epidermoid Cysts: Epidermoid Cysts are not to be confused with cystic acne. Epidermoid cysts are caused by blocked oil glands in the skin. Milia, which are often found around the eye area, are a type of epidermoid cyst. These types of cysts are benign, but can be unsightly. Epidermoid cysts must be extracted by a dermatologist through an incision in the skin as the sac of the cyst must be completely removed. If the discharge is forced out by squeezing the cyst, the cyst will reappear over time as the sac will remain within the skin.
Folliculitis: An infection of the hair follicles, folliculitis appears due to skin irritation caused by chemicals or physical factors such as friction, or by infection within the hair follicle itself. Folliculitis is predominant in those with a compromised immune system. Folliculitis is characterized by itchy skin, redness, irritation and a rash-like appearance. Antibiotics or antifungal medications may be used to treat folliculitis.
Keratosis Pilaris: Commonly referred to as ‘chicken skin’ or ‘KP’ Keratosis Pilaris appears on the backs of arms and on the thighs, and can also appear on cheeks, back, and buttocks. There is no known cause for KP but it’s commonly associated with dry skin. Treatment of KP includes using rich moisturizers in conjunction with exfoliating products, such as alpha hydroxyl acids.
Lipomas: Lipomas are soft tissue tumors that are slow-growing and benign. Lipomas usually appear on the neck and back but can appear on other parts of the body as well. Lipomas have a rubbery feel, and can appear in clusters and variable sizes. Lipomas need to be removed by a dermatologist.
If you have a lump, growth, bump or irritation that you find bothersome or unsightly, consult with your doctor. Always have your moles checked to ensure that they are benign.
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