Birthmarks are abnormal skin discolorations in spots that are either present at birth or appear shortly thereafter. They can be flat or slightly raised from the skin. They can be any number of colors, including red, brown, black, tan, pink, white or purple. Birthmarks are generally harmless. There are two major categories of birthmarks: pigmented birthmarks and red birthmarks.
Pigmented Birthmarks can grow anywhere on the skin and at any time. They are usually black, brown or skin-colored and appear singly or in groups. They can be moles (congenital nevi) that are present at birth, Mongolian spots, which look like bluish bruises and appear more frequently on people with dark skin, or café-au-lait spots that are flat, light brown or tan and roughly form an oval shape.
Red Birthmarks (also known as macular stains) develop before or shortly after birth and are related to the vascular (blood vessel) system. There are a number of different types:
- Angel kisses, which usually appear on the forehead and eyelids.
- Stork bites, which appear on the back of the neck, between the eyebrows on the forehead, or on eyelids of newborns. They may fade away as the child grows, but often persist into adulthood.
- Port-wine stains, which are flat deep-red or purple birthmarks made up of dilated blood capillaries (small blood vessels). They often appear on the face and are permanent.
- Strawberry hemangiomas, composed of small, closely packed blood vessels that grow rapidly and can appear anywhere on the body. They usually disappear by age nine.
- Cavernous hemangiomas are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but go more deeply into the layers of the skin. These can often be characterized by a bluish-purple color. They also tend to disappear naturally around school age.
Our team of professionals and staff believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions regarding their health and well-being. For your personal use, we have created an extensive patient library covering an array of educational topics, which can be found on the side of each page. Browse through these diagnoses and treatments to learn more about topics of interest to you.
As always, you can contact our office to answer any questions or concerns.
There are literally hundreds of different kinds of lumps, bumps and cysts associated with the skin. Fortunately, the vast majority of these are harmless and painless. The chart below provides a guide for some of the most common forms of skin lumps, bumps and cysts.
- Red, brown or purple growth; generally benign
- Usually found on arms and legs
- Feels like a hard lump
- Can be itchy, tender to the touch and sometimes painful
- Usually does not require treatment
- Most common removal by surgical excision or cryotherapy (freezing it off with liquid nitrogen)
Epidermoid Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts)
- Round small bumps, usually white or yellow
- Forms from blocked oil glands in the skin
- Most commonly appear on the face, back, neck, trunk and genitals
- Usually benign; occasionally leads to basal or squamous cell skin cancers
- If infected, will become red and tender
- Can produce a thick yellow, cheese-like discharge when squeezed
- Antibiotics might be prescribed if there is an underlying infection
- Dermatologist removes the discharge and the sac (capsule) that make up the walls of the cyst to prevent recurrence
- Laser surgery may be used for sensitive areas of the skin, like the face
- Red pimples around areas having hair
- Inflammation of the hair follicles
- Caused by infection or chemical or physical irritation (e.g., shaving, fabrics)
- Higher incidence among people with diabetes, the obese or those with compromised immune systems
- Topical antibiotics
- Oral antibiotics
- Antifungal medications
- Eliminating the cause
- Red, dome-shaped, thick bumps with craters in the center
- Abnormal growth of hair cells
- Triggered by minor skin injury such as a cut or bug bite
- Ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure is the most common risk factor
- Cryotherapy (freezing off the bump with liquid nitrogen
- Curettage (surgically cutting out or scraping off)
- Small, rough white or red bumps that neither itch nor hurt
- Usually worse during winter months or when there is low humidity and the skin gets dry
- Usually does not require treatment
- In most cases disappears on its own by age 30
- Intensive moisturizing is the first line of treatment
- For more difficult cases, use of medicated creams with urea or alpha-hydroxy acids
- Soft fatty tissue tumors or nodules below the skin's surface
- Usually slow growing and benign
- Appear most commonly on the trunk, shoulders and neck
- May be single or multiple
- Usually painless unless putting pressure on a nerve
- Usually does not require treatment unless it is compressing on the surrounding tissue
- Easy to remove via excision
- Soft fleshy growths under the skin
- Slow growing and generally benign and painless
- Pain may indicate a need for medical attention
- May experience an electrical shock at the touch
- Usually does not require treatment, particularly if it does not cause any symptoms
- If it affects a nerve, it may be removed surgically
- Closed pockets of tissue that can be filled with fluid or pus
- Can appear anywhere on the skin
- Smooth to the touch; feels like a pea underneath the surface
- Slow growing and generally is painless and benign
- Only needs attention if it becomes infected or inflamed
- Usually does not require treatment; often disappears on its own
- May need to be drained by a physician
- Inflamed cysts respond to an injection of cortisone, which causes it to shrivel