Common Skin Lumps, Bumps & Cysts

Know All About Lumps, Bumps & Cysts

There are literally hundreds of lumps, bumps, and cysts related to the skin. While most are harmless, some conditions are so unappealing or painful as to require services from a professional of dermatology clinic you can trust. Use the guide below from Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center to find helpful information about common lumps, bumps, and cysts.


Dermatofibromas commonly develop on the arms and legs of adults between ages 20 and 50. Also called histiocytomas, these brown-, red-, or purple-colored hard skin lumps are generally benign; although some itch or are tender to the touch.

Most patients with dermatofibromas don't need medical treatment — unless the growths interfere with shaving or become irritated from clothing. However, changes in the color or size of growths can signal more serious health issues, and it’s important to notify a dermatologist. To remove dermatofibroma, surgical excision (or cryotherapy), which involves freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen, is a common procedure.

Epidermoid Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts)

Epidermoid cysts, commonly called sebaceous cysts, are small, round bumps usually found on the back, face, genitals, neck, and torso. Considered benign skin tumors, the cysts originate from clogged hair follicles, often caused by severe acne or injuries that penetrate the skin. If the skin that covers the cysts breaks, the growths release a cheese-like discharge; they also become red and painful to the touch when infected.

A common treatment for cysts involves removing the discharge and cyst sac, or capsule, to prevent recurrence. A dermatologist may also prescribe antibiotics to treat an underlying skin infection. Furthermore, an experienced dermatologist, may suggest laser surgery to treat sebaceous cysts on sensitive areas, such as the face.


Folliculitis is an inflammation or infection of the hair follicles. While a bacterial or fungal infection is the common cause, the condition may also stem from chemical or physical irritation to the follicles. Small red bumps at the site of the inflamed follicles are the primary symptom, along with tender, itchy, or burning skin. Patients with compromised immune systems, diabetes, or obesity have higher incidence-rates of folliculitis.

If the folliculitis spreads or the related pain increases, contact Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center. To effectively treat folliculitis, a dermatologist will often focus on eliminating its cause or trigger along with prescribing antifungal medications, oral antibiotics, and topical antibiotics.


Keratoacanthoma (KA) is are abnormal yet benign growths of hair cells that are common in the elderly and people who have extended sun exposure. A KA growth is red with a dome-shaped perimeter and a cratered center, and most growths form rapidly and are found on the arms, hands, face, and torso.

Treatments for keratoacanthoma include cryotherapy — freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen — and curettage — surgical removal by cutting out or scraping off the growth; a dermatologist determines which treatment method to use.

Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris are small but rough white or red bumps that form usually on the upper arms, buttocks, and thighs. While the bumps don't itch or hurt, they can have an aesthetic impact on a patient. Cases tend to be worse during winter months and when humidity levels are low and thus cause skin to dry out. Keratosis pilaris is thought to be genetic, and patients often have a parent who has also had the condition.

Because keratosis pilaris often disappears on a person by age 30, the condition usually doesn't require medical treatment. Instead, a dermatologist may suggest using intensive moisturizers to help reduce the roughness; more severe cases may require medicated creams with urea or alpha-hydroxy acids.


Lipomas are soft, fatty tissue nodules frequently found on the neck, shoulders, and torso. The nodules are slow-growing and painless unless the growths put pressure on a nearby nerve. Lipomas can develop individually or in multiples and are genetic. They're usually benign and are the most common form of tumors.

Unless a lipoma compresses surrounding nerves and/or tissue, treatment usually isn't necessary. If treatment is needed, your dermatologist may surgically remove the nodule or use steroids to shrink the size.

Molluscum Contagiosum

A common skin condition, molluscum contagiosum is caused by a highly-contagious virus. Symptoms generally include small flesh-colored or pink bumps anywhere on the skin except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. School-aged children most often develop molluscum from skin-to-skin contact or by sharing a contaminated object, such as clothing or towels. The bumps appear in groups ranging from several to hundreds and appear up to six weeks after exposure to the virus.

Molluscum can spread on an individual’s body through scratching or if the affected area comes into contact with another part of the body. While this condition frequently clears on its own, your dermatologist may use a combination of treatments, such as curettage and topical medications.


Similar to lipomas, neurofibromas are soft, fleshy nerve tumors under the skin that are generally benign and painless. Some patients may experience occasional numbness and/or pain as the growth presses on a nerve and should seek medical attention if this occurs.

Diagnosis is based on a physical examination, review of your medical history, and/or CT or MRI scan. Neurofibromas are usually only treated if the growth affects a nerve and most don't recur after removal.

Seborrheic Keratosis

Often mistaken for a pre-cancerous growth or wart, a seborrheic keratosis is a benign growth generally seen in middle-aged or elderly people. Most patients develop several seborrheic keratoses which are tan or brown in color and appear on any part of the body, commonly the back, chest, face, and torso. The condition has a genetic tendency and is not contagious.

A seborrheic keratosis is usually diagnosed through a physical examination from your Boardman dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center. However, the growth may be biopsied to distinguish it from a skin cancer.

Skin Cysts

Skin cysts are common and appear anywhere on the body. These cysts are closed pockets of tissue filled with either fluid or pus and are benign. Skin cysts are usually smooth to the touch and may feel like a pea under the skin. They can develop for many reasons, including after an infection or around foreign bodies, such as piercings.

Treatment is rarely needed, generally when the skin cyst becomes infected or inflamed. Your dermatologist may drain the cyst or use a cortisone injection to shrink the size of the cyst.


Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), warts are classified as one of five types — common, filiform, flat, periungual, and plantar (foot). Warts are generally painless and benign but are contagious and can be embarrassing for some patients. Most people develop at least one type of wart during their lifetime, and HPV is spread from skin-to-skin contact with a wart or by sharing an infect item, such as a towel. Many warts resolve on their own without medical treatment over several months. Your dermatologist may use a combination of in-office and at-home methods to effectively treat warts.

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