Sometime throughout your life, you will probably notice a bump or lump appear on your body. Some are harmless, while others should be checked by a doctor. Below are five types of lumps and bumps, some of which are harmless, and some that need medical attention
Skin cancer can be either in the form of a melanoma or non-melanoma. The latter is more easily recognizable as something that needs to be checked, as it presents either as a reddish bump that bleeds easily or a patch of skin that won’t heal. Melanomas are dark spots and are more serious. By following the acronym “ABCDE,” you can determine whether a spot may be a melanoma.
- Asymmetry—If your spot doesn’t look the same on both sides, it’s asymmetrical.
- Borders—If the outline of the spot is rigid, wavy or uneven.
- Color—If the spot is a different color or changes color over time.
- Diameter—If your spot is larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser (more than a quarter inch or five millimeters).
- Elevation or Evolution—If the spot is raised above your skin (like a bump) or if it changes over time (evolves).
If your spot has any of these characteristics, you should contact your doctor.
Warts are bumps caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is contagious. Warts are the same color as your skin, and they usually exist in clumps. They vary in severity, so if you have warts that aren’t going away, or warts in your genital area, you will want to contact your doctor. Genital warts have been linked to cervical cancer, so the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that girls get their first HPV vaccination when they are 10 or 11, or later if they haven’t yet gotten one.
Cysts feel like small balls or pebbles, and they are yellowish round lumps that form under the skin. Cysts stay relatively small, and a cyst can form from a variety of situations, including a blocked follicle. Usually, cysts don’t cause health problems, but you may need to get yours removed if it’s in a delicate location, like the brain, or if it is in an area that causes you discomfort.
Angiomas are small collections of blood vessels that resemble bright red or purple bumps. They don’t bleed and usually stay the same size, so they often don’t require treatment.
Moles and Freckles
Moles are skin cells that didn’t disperse throughout your body and therefore retain a dark pigmentation. Freckles are dark spots that usually appear from sun exposure and are more common on light-skinned individuals. Both moles and freckles are harmless in and of themselves, but you should watch both to see if they change size or appearance. Either change could be an indication that they aren’t in fact just moles or freckles.
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