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Benign Skin Growths in Children

What are benign skin growths?

As a child grows older and is exposed to sunlight, the skin changes. Benign skin growths mean they aren’t cancer. Children may have freckles and moles. These may multiply or darken over time in response to sun exposure. Check with a healthcare provider if your child develops any skin changes.

What are the types of benign skin growths?

Name

What they look like

Treatment

Dermatofibromas

Small, firm, red or brown scar-like bumps caused by a buildup of fibroblasts (soft tissue cells under the skin). They often happen on the legs and may itch. They often result from trauma, like a bug bite.

Dermatofibromas can be surgically removed if they become painful or itchy.

Dermoid cysts

A noncancerous (benign) tumor that is made up of hairs, sweat glands, and oil (sebaceous) glands. Some internal dermoid tumors may even contain cartilage, bone fragments, and teeth. These are rare and are usually present at birth.

Dermoid cysts may be surgically removed for cosmetic reasons or if they are causing a problem, such as on an eyelid.

Freckles

Darkened, flat spots that typically appear only on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Freckles are common in people with blond or red hair.

No treatment is needed for freckles.

Keloids

Smooth, firm, raised, fibrous growths on the skin that form in wound sites. Keloids are more common in African-Americans.

Keloids respond poorly to most treatment approaches. Injections of corticosteroid drugs may help to flatten the keloids. Other treatment approaches may include surgery, laser, or silicone patches to further flatten the keloids.

Lipomas

Round or oval lumps under the skin caused by fatty deposits. They tend to appear on the forearms, torso, and back of the neck.

Lipomas are generally harmless. But if the lipoma changes shape, a biopsy may be advised. Treatment may include surgical removal if the lipoma bothers the child.

Moles (nevi)

Small skin marks caused by pigment-producing cells in the skin. Moles can be flat or raised, smooth or rough, and some contain hair. Most moles are dark brown or black. Some are skin-colored or yellowish. Moles can change over time and often respond to hormonal changes.

Most moles are benign and no treatment is needed. Some benign moles may develop into skin cancer (melanoma). See below for signs.

Atypical moles (dysplastic nevi)

Atypical moles are larger than normal moles), and are not always round. Atypical moles can be tan to dark brown, on a pink background. These types of moles may happen anywhere on the body.

Treatment may include removal of any atypical mole that changes in color, shape, or diameter. People with atypical moles should avoid sun exposure, since sunlight may accelerate changes in atypical moles. People with atypical moles should talk with a healthcare provider for any changes that may indicate skin cancer.

Pyogenic granulomas

Red, brown, or bluish-black, raised marks caused by excessive growth of capillaries (small blood vessels) and swelling. Pyogenic granulomas usually form after an injury to the skin.

They tend to bleed easily.

Some pyogenic granulomas disappear without treatment. Sometimes, a biopsy is needed to rule out cancer. Treatment may include surgical removal.

Epidermoid cysts

Also called epidermal inclusion cysts, these are common benign lumps that most often don't cause discomfort unless they become inflamed or infected. They range from a half to 2 inches in size and are common on the back, head, and neck. They are firm and contain a white substance.

Treatment to remove the cyst is not needed unless the cyst becomes inflamed, or if its location is a problem. Epidermoid cysts generally go away without treatment but may return.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2021
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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