Common Brown Spots and Bumps

It is common to sometimes examine our own skin and find a new spot that was not there previously.  The following are two types of spots often found on skin.

Seborrheic Keratosis

On occasion, a brown spot can be a seborrheic keratosis.  Seborrheic keratoses are a common non-cancerous skin growths in adults and appear like a brown, black or tan bump usually on the face, back, arms or chest.  These lesions do not become cancerous but can sometimes look abnormal or concerning. They have a waxy or wart-like appearance and can differ in size from very small to over 1 inch in size.  

Treatments for these benign skin spots is not medically necessary but they can be treated if you are bothered by their appearance or have uncomfortable itching.  Treatment options include freezing with liquid nitrogen freezing, electric current treatment and surgical removal.

Image source: AAD

Lentigines (Lentigo)

Other brown spots on your skin could be age spots.  Age spots, often called liver spots, are lentigines and are caused by exposure to the sun.  They look like flat oval tan, brown or black spots and usually occur on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun. These areas include the back of the hands, arms, legs, shoulders, face, neck and chest.  These lesions occur when UV radiation on your skin causes your pigmented skin cells, called melanocytes, to multiply and create more pigment, or melanin, in your skin.

Lentigos can be prevented by avoiding or limiting sun exposure.  When going outside during the peak hours of sun, 10am-4pm, Dr. Obayan recommends frequent and routine sunscreen use with an SPF 30 or higher, reapplying the sunscreen hourly, and wearing clothing with sun protectant factor to block harmful UV rays.

Lentigos can be treated several ways including skin lightening creams, laser treatments, freezing with liquid nitrogen, chemical peels and microneedling.  They can sometimes become cancerous and change shape and color. If you are worried your brown spot could be a skin cancer, we recommend that before treating them, you see a board-certified dermatologist for a thorough skin examination.  


Warts are non-cancerous skin growths that are caused by the human papillomavirus.  They are contagious and can spread. Warts can appear on the feet or hands or around the nails and look like rough black or brown spots. Genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease that can appear as brown, black, or pink spots or bumps in the genital area, abdomen, or buttock area.   Warts are treated with liquid nitrogen, injections, chemical peels, topical medication, or lasers. Early treatment is necessary in order to prevent spreading or worsening.

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Skin tag

Skin tags, or acrochordons, are very common benign skin spots.  They are often found in high friction areas of the body like the neck, underarms, groin or eyelids. Although they tend to be skin colored, they can turn a darker shade and be brown or black in skin of color.  Skin tags are best treated by snipping them off with scissors, or removing them with cautery or liquid nitrogen.

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Raised pink, brown, or black bumps could be a lesion called a dermatofibroma. Dermatofibromas appear on areas of the skin where there was previously a bug bite or scar and are thought to be the body’s way of healing after these injuries.  These spots can look light brown, dark brown or black depending on your skin tone. Dermatofibromas are benign, but they can rarely turn cancerous and change size, shape and color. If you have a spot that’s itchy, growing, or concerning, please make an appointment so it can be checked. If these bumps become itchy or uncomfortable, they can be removed with a simple excision.

Tinea versicolor

Yeast infections on the skin can cause your skin to look like it has brown or darker spots.  Tinea versicolor is a common skin yeast infection of the skin that tends to occur on oily and sweaty areas of the body like the back, groin and folds of the skin.  Tinea versicolor can be treated with creams, lotions, shampoos, or anti-fungal pills. After treatment, there can be lasting discoloration of the skin that can remain for many months. Early treatment is needed to cure the infection and hopefully prevent lasting discoloration. Tinea versicolor tends to come back in the hot weather months, so repeat treatment may be necessary.

Image source: AAD

Any spot, colored or not, that is new, different, abnormal, is changing, bleeding or is itchy should be examined by a board-certified dermatologist to ensure it is not skin cancer.  We encourage everyone to get routine skin examinations with a board-certified dermatologist for a thorough skin evaluation. Dr. Obayan is happy to see you for a skin examination at her practice, conveniently located in Austin, Texas.