Treatments to Remove Growths on Skin (Part 2)

Author: FITivate | Published date: August 16, 2021 | Category: Medical
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In this second part, we will be talking about treatments in removing skin growths related to 4 common conditions, namely, Viral warts, Moles or Nevus, Milia seeds and Syringomas.

Types of skin growths and treatment

Viral warts

Viral warts are growths on the skin due to an infection on the top layer of the skin caused by viruses in the Human Papillomavirus ( HPV ) family, of which there are about 130 types currently known.

On the face, they can appear as rough bumps with tiny black dots. They are mostly painless but can also be slightly itchy and may bleed if you pick on it. Though unsightly, warts are not cancerous and are very common.

How do you get virus warts?

Well the most common way for someone to get a viral wart is through skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has it. You can also get it through contact with objects like doorknobs, used towels etc. You can also get infected in a public shower if someone who has the virus made use of the shower facilities before you.

Viral warts can appear on your skin even months after you first come into contact with HPV.

 The type of warts you get on the face are usually

- small flesh coloured and flattened wart

- digitate warts especially near eyelids and lips

Viral warts are mostly harmless.

Removal methods involve :

- Topical medications including salicylic acid

- Cryotherapy ( which involves freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen and allowing the wart to crust and drop off )

- Electrocautery

- Surgical excision

- Ablative lasers

Moles or nevus

Moles or nevus appear as small, brown or dark brown spots and are caused by the clustering of pigmented cells. They can appear at birth or later on in life. Most people can have 10 to 40 moles on their body which may change in appearance or fade away over time.

Moles that occur on the face are usually benign - but there are also cases of cancerous change.

A guide to look for potential cancerous change would be to use the acronym ABCDE.

  • A- Asymmetry of the mole : where one half is unlike the other half
  • B- Border of the mole : look out for moles with irregular or notched borders
  • C- Colour: look out for moles that have changed colour, or have uneven colourations
  • D- Diameter: Look out for moles that are larger than 6-10mm
  • E- Evolving moles: look out for moles that changes in shape, size, texture and colour or new symptoms like bleeding or itching.

If ever in doubt, please check with your family physician or dermatologist.

Facial moles can be removed for various reasons.

However, it is suggested to not remove facial moles for cosmetic purposes as they often scar after treatment.

Miliary/ Milia seeds

These are small white or yellowish white skin growths often seen on the eyelids or temple.  They are actually small cysts that contain keratin that have been trapped under the skin. They are very small and resemble millet seeds and appear spontaneously and the cause is not known. Good news its they are benign and harmless and can be left alone.

Removal methods involve :

1) Watchful observation: some milia seeds may disappear on their own but this could take months to years

2) Topical retinoids or vitamin A cream may be used. The effectiveness varies from person to person.

3) Ablative laser removal

4) Electrocautery

These milia seeds may recur after treatment.

Syringomas (sweat duct growths)

These are harmless sweat duct growths that can occur in a cluster on the eyelids.

They are skin coloured or yellowish firm rounded bumps that can be 1-3mm in diameter.

They are more common in women than men and often runs in the family, and can start to appear as early as in the adolescence.

Syringomas are harmless and benign. Removal is mainly for cosmetic reasons.

Removal methods involve :

- Ablative laser

- Electrocautery

However, they are often recurring and patients may have to repeat the removal treatment again months to years down the road.

By : Dr Chen Yiming

Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)



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