Children's Health and Wellness

Other Benign Skin Growths in Children

What are other benign skin growths?

As a person grows older and is exposed to sunlight, the skin changes. Children may have freckles and moles. These may multiply or darken over time in response to sun exposure.

What are the different types of skin growths?

Skin Growth

Characteristics

Treatment

Dermatofibromas

Small, firm, red or brown bumps caused by an accumulation 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 cyst

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

Dermoid cysts may be surgically removed for cosmetic reasons.

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 necessary 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. Lipomas are more common in women. 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 recommended. 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 necessary. Some benign moles may develop into skin cancer (melanoma). See below for signs.

Atypical moles (dysplastic nevi)

Larger than normal moles (more than a half inch across), atypical moles 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, and/or diameter. In addition, people with atypical moles should avoid sun exposure, since sunlight may accelerate changes in atypical moles. People with atypical moles should talk with a health care 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 necessary to rule out cancer. Treatment may include surgical removal.

Distinguishing benign moles from melanoma

According to recent research, certain moles are at higher risk for changing into cancerous growths. This includes malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Moles that are present at birth and atypical moles have a greater chance of becoming malignant. Recognizing changes in your child's moles, by following this ABCDE Chart, is crucial in finding malignant melanoma and other cancerous skin growths at their earliest stage of development when treatment is most likely to be effective. The warning signs include:

Normal Mole / Melanoma

Sign

Characteristic

Photo comparing normal and melanoma moles showing asymmetry

Asymmetry

When half of the mole does not match the other half

Photo comparing normal and melanoma moles showing border irregularity

Border

When the border (edges) of the mole is ragged or irregular

Photo comparing normal and melanoma moles showing color

Color

When the color of the mole varies throughout

Photo comparing normal and melanoma moles showing diameter

Diameter

If the mole's diameter is larger than a pencil's eraser

Text

Evolving

Changes in the way the mole looks.

Photographs Used By Permission: National Cancer Institute

Print Source: Approach to the patient with hyperpigmentation disorders. UpToDate
Print Source: Laser Surgery: An approach to the pediatric patient. Cantatore, J. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2004, is.50, pp.165-84.
Print Source: Overview of benign lesions of the skin. UpToDate
Print Source: Skin nodules in newborns and infants. UpToDate
Online Source: What You Need To Know About Moles and Dysplastic nevi, National Cancer Institutehttp://www.cancer.gov/types/skin/moles-fact-sheet
Online Source: Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars, Keloid Research Foundationhttp://www.keloidresearchfoundation.org/newly-diagnosed-patients.php
Online Source: Dermatofibromas, Merck Manualshttp://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/benign_skin_tumors/dermatofibroma.html?qt=dermatofibromas&alt=sh
Online Source: Keloids, Merck Manualshttp://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/benign_skin_tumors/keloids.html?qt=keloid&alt=sh
Online Source: Lipomas, Merck Manualshttp://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/benign_skin_tumors/lipomas.html?qt=lipoma&alt=sh
Online Source: Vascular Lesions of the Skin, Merck Manualshttp://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/benign-skin-tumors-growths-and-vascular-lesions/vascular-lesions-of-the-skin?qt=pyogenic%20granulomas&alt=sh
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Berman, Kevin, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 5/4/2015
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