Skin Rashes and Other Conditions

6 Strange Skin Spots, Explained

Allison Tsai Aug 29th, 2012 (updated Oct 29th, 2015)
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Keratosis pilaris
Keratosis pilaris

You probably know these little bumps better by the descriptive term "chicken skin." These small, rough bumps are most often found on the upper arms or thighs, but can also be found on the face and other parts of the body. Keratosis pilaris is harmless, and the bumps often disappear by the time a person reaches the age of 30.

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Cherry angioma
Cherry angioma

A cherry angioma is a distinctive, small, bright red spot that can appear on your skin, most often on the trunk of your body. Experts aren't completely sure what causes them, though liver damage and chemical exposure may play a part. Cherry angiomas also get more common as you age.

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Skin cysts
Skin cysts

Skin cysts are quite common, and they can vary in size, shape, and type. Cysts common to the face and neck often feel like a hard, pea-shaped growth under the skin. While harmless and painless, cysts have serious staying power, and they don't usually go away on their own.

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Milia
Milia

Even if you don't have milia, you've probably seen it on babies, where it is often called "milk bumps" or "baby acne." In truth, milia are small, keratin-filled cysts that are formed at the base of a sweat gland or hair follicle. Milium often cluster around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead in adults.

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Age spots
Age spots

The classic age spot is one of the most common signs of aging. They're caused by years of exposure to the sun, which is why they most often mark the face, hands, arms, and other areas not covered by clothing. For years people called age spots "liver spots," but these marks are not connected to the liver or liver damage.

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Freckles
Freckles

Unlike age spots, freckles are often seen as a sign of youth. While nobody is born freckled, many children with a genetic predisposition to them (such as red-heads) can develop them by the age of 1 or 2. Freckles do get darker after sun exposure, but they are not necessarily a sign of sun damage. Many freckled youngsters find that their spots get lighter as they age.