Lumps, Bumps and Cysts

What are lumps, bumps, and cysts?

These are general terms used to describe growths or raised areas of the skin. The list of potential causes is virtually endless. Fortunately, most are relatively painless and harmless. However, any suspicious lesion or change in your skin should be evaluated by a dermatologist, to rule out cancer.

Hundreds of skin conditions cause lumps, bumps, and cysts. Some of the most common are described below.

Dermatofibromas

Characteristics
  • Usually benign red, purple, or brown growths.
  • Most common on the legs or arms.
  • Hard lumps containing scar tissue.
  • May itch, hurt, or feel tender.
Treatment
  • Typically resolves without medical treatment.
  • When treatment is necessary, the lesions may be removed with excision or cryotherapy.

Sebaceous Cysts (Epidermoid Cysts)

Characteristics
  • Caused by clogged oil glands.
  • Small, yellow or white round bumps.
  • Most common on the neck, face, back, genitals, or trunk of the body.
  • Benign in most cases, but they can lead to squamous or basal cell cancer.
  • May become infected, causing redness and tenderness.
  • When squeezed, the lesions discharge a very thick, yellowish liquid.
Treatment
  • If infection is present, antibiotics will be prescribed.
  • The sac and discharge can be removed by your dermatologist, which will prevent reinfection.
  • For sensitive areas, such as facial skin, laser surgery may be recommended.

Folliculitis

Characteristics
  • Inflammation or small pimple-like bumps around hair follicles.
  • Caused by irritation, infection, or chemicals.
  • Most common in individuals with weakened immune systems, diabetics, and those who are obese.
Treatment
  • Oral antibiotics.
  • Topical antibiotics.
  • Antifungal medication.
  • Protecting the skin from damage.

Keratoacanthoma

Characteristics
  • Thick, reddened, dome-shaped skin growths that have depressions in the center.
  • Frequently caused by insect bites, small cuts, or other minor skin injuries.
  • UV exposure will increase your risk.
Treatment
  • Removal with liquid nitrogen.
  • Surgical removal.

Keratosis Pilaris

Characteristics
  • Rough textured bumps, usually white or red in color.
  • Rarely hurt or itch.
  • May worsen when skin becomes dry.
Treatment
  • Rarely requires medical treatment.
  • Rarely persists after the age of 30.
  • Use an intense moisturizer.
  • Topical medication, such as creams containing alpha-hydroxy acid may be recommended in severe cases.

Lipomas

Characteristics
  • Fatty, soft tissue forming nodules or tumors in the subcutaneous layer.
  • Typically slow growing and benign.
  • Most often develops on the neck, shoulders, or trunk.
  • May develop individually or as groups.
  • Rarely causes pain unless it is aggravating a nerve.
Treatment
  • Medical treatment is usually unnecessary.
  • If tissues are crowded or the lesion is a cosmetic concern, it can be removed with excision easily.

Neurofibromas

Characteristics
  • Fleshy, soft growths that occur under or on the skin.
  • Usually benign, painless, and slow growing.
  • Sometimes causes a sensation similar to an electrical shock when touched.
  • May require medical treatment if painful.
Treatment
  • If there are no symptoms, treatment is rarely needed.
  • If the nerve is aggravated, the lesion can be removed surgically.

Skin Cysts

Characteristics
  • Fluid or pus collected in closed pockets within the skin.
  • Can develop on any area of the body.
  • Skin feels smooth with a lump beneath the surface.
  • Usually benign, painless, and slow growing.
  • May require medical attention if inflamed or infected.
Treatment
  • Resolves without treatment in many cases.
  • A doctor can drain the fluid or pus.
  • If inflammation is present, it can be treated with a cortisone injection.
If you have problematic lumps, bumps, cysts, or any other skin concerns, call Dr. W Dermatology at 281 771-0494 and schedule an appointment today. We can see you at our Katy or Houston office.