Cysts, Seborrheic Keratosis, and Moles
What Is a Cyst?
Simple cysts are a common dermatological condition. Cysts occur when a sac filled with a semi-solid substance comprised of oil and proteins develops beneath or within the skin. Although typically benign, these growths can increase in size over time and become unsightly, uncomfortable, and even malodorous. Some individuals are genetically prone to developing cysts and may experience multiple cysts during their lifetime. Most cysts are easily removed during an in-office procedure using a local anesthetic. Cysts that rupture or that become inflamed or infected may need to be opened, drained, and then packed for up to a week. Patients are encouraged to have these cysts excised in order to prevent a recurrence.
What Is Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic keratoses are benign skin growths that most often occur in middle-aged or older adults. They are characterized by rough bumps or patches that are normally brown in color and tend to occur on the trunk and sun-exposed areas of the body. They often seem to appear without an apparent cause. The spots may itch or bleed, which prompts many patients to consult a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer. Seborrheic keratoses that are bothersome or unsightly can be removed using an electric needle or by cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen.
What Are Moles?
Moles, also known as nevi, are typically benign and often hereditary skin growths. A history of sun exposure can lead to the development of an increased number of nevi. A normal mole should have a smooth round or oval shape. Most normal moles are a single light to medium-brown color. Individuals with a large number of moles may have a higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer. While most moles never change and remain benign, there is the possibility that a mole can become atypical or even cancerous. Signs of an atypical mole include:
- an asymmetrical shape,
- a ragged or irregular border,
- an uneven color, or
- a diameter larger than a pencil eraser.
Anyone with a mole that changes in size, shape, or appearance or that becomes symptomatic should consult with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch at Calabasas Dermatology Center.