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Overview of benign lesions of the skin

Beth G Goldstein, MD
Adam O Goldstein, MD, MPH
Section Editor
Robert P Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Deputy Editor
Rosamaria Corona, MD, DSc


Individuals may acquire a multitude of benign skin lesions over the course of a lifetime. Many of these lesions are easily visible, and patients often ask clinicians to confirm that new growths on the skin are benign.

Most benign skin lesions are diagnosed on the basis of clinical appearance and history. If the diagnosis of a lesion is uncertain, or if a lesion has exhibited unexpected changes in appearance or symptoms, a diagnostic procedure (eg, biopsy, excision) is indicated to confirm the diagnosis.

Benign lesions that are symptomatic or cosmetically bothersome can often be managed with simple procedures, such as cryotherapy, electrosurgery, or excision.

The clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of some common acquired skin lesions will be discussed here. Malignant neoplasms of the skin are discussed separately. (See "Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical features of basal cell carcinoma" and "Pathologic characteristics of melanoma" and "Clinical features and diagnosis of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)".)


Acrochordon (skin tag) — Acrochordons, commonly known as skin tags, are an outgrowth of normal skin (picture 1A-E). They appear as pedunculated lesions on narrow stalks. Skin tags occur in approximately 50 percent of adults; the risk increases with age [1]. Skin tags also appear with increased frequency during the second trimester of pregnancy and may regress postpartum [2].

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 26, 2017.
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