‘Lumps & Bumps’ &  Benign Skin Lesions

Any lumps or lesions on the skin may worry people about the risks of skin cancer. However, the vast majority of “lumps and bumps” are completely benign and have no risk for forming skin cancer. Despite this, benign lesions can cause a lot of problems.

Cysts, lipomas, seborrhoeic warts, viral warts and skin tags are not dangerous things in themselves, but can cause pain as they grow, or press on nerves. Cysts may leak thick fluid, which has an odour. They may also become infected and require treatment with antibiotics.

Lipomas continue to grow slowly. Seborrhoeic warts also grow and sometimes may be very dark in colour. Viral warts and skin tags, may or may not grow in size, but often cause pain from rubbing on skin or clothing.

These skin lesions can all be treated surgically, usually very successfully. Complete removal means that a benign lesion will not come back, although some people will have multiple lipomas or cysts and may need more than one minor operation. The operation replaces the lesion with a scar. These mostly settle down very well. For advice about scars, see the Scar Revision section on this website.

With any new lump in, or under the skin, you should see a doctor to examine it. Even if the result is reassurance that the lesion is completely benign, it is worth having the medical assessment in order to rule out a skin cancer.

Benign Skin Moles

Benign moles are very common and may occur in adults or children.  The main problems associated with them are:  appearance; growth; worry about skin cancer; discomfort.

Anyone with a new mole on the skin should see a doctor to examine the mole.  This is important for ruling out skin cancer.  If there is a concern, then a biopsy, or surgical removal may be ordered.  If the mole looks completely benign, then the examination can be very reassuring.

Benign moles, such as naevi and keratoses can be left alone, or removed.  Removal is usually done either by excision (complete removal), or by shaving flat.  These techniques usually get rid of the mole very well.  Shaving minimises scarring, but does carry the risk of recurrence (coming back), but this happens very rarely.

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