Moles, Cysts & Lesions

Skin growths are fairly common, and in most cases, they are not harmful. Rarely does a cyst, lesion, or mole require removal. At our Chapel Hill-based dermatology practice, we are specialists in managing pigmented lesions. Our expertise allows us to provide a comprehensive and preventive approach for patients in high-risk categories who might be appropriate candidates for monitoring or determining whether mole removal is necessary. North Carolina patients from Durham and surrounding areas should have suspicious or new growths checked and routinely monitored at Central Dermatology Center. We offer patients comprehensive preventive care, combining advanced mole-mapping technology with easy-to-follow instructions on how to perform self-examinations.

Successful treatment of moles and other lesions begins with a full examination under the direction of a board-certified dermatologist. Now is a good time to request a consultation online, or call us at (919) 401-1994 to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.

Total Body Photography

We schedule total body photography sessions as part of our comprehensive treatment for our high-risk patients – people who have numerous moles, light skin, or a family history of melanoma. The most common indicators of cancerous moles are their shape and color. Therefore, high quality, total body photography is essential. We refer patients to medical photographers who use specialized, digital photographic equipment. That is important because it allows physicians to zoom in on a particular mole, making it easier for them to assess its characteristics.

Types of Skin Growths

There are several types of skin lesions, but they generally fall into one of the following categories:

Actinic keratosis – Considered the most common form of pre-cancerous lesion, the scaly or crusty growth will most often appear on parts of the body regularly exposed to the sun.

Moles – Most moles aren’t a cause for concern. Atypical moles – also called dysplastic nevi – are benign growths that resemble melanoma, but are not cancerous. People with numerous dysplastic moles may have an increased risk for developing melanoma. We often recommend total body photography for high-risk patients who have multiple pigmented spots on their skin.

Cysts – Although there are various types of cysts, most are non-cancerous, painless, smooth bumps that appear on the skin. However, we recommend getting an evaluation if the cyst is sore or growing.


We conduct a thorough assessment of the growth – including a surgical biopsy, if necessary – before formulating a treatment protocol. In certain cases, surgical removal is the best course of action.

Treatments for patients diagnosed with actinic keratosis include:

  • Topical therapy – Safe, effective medicinal creams and gels are typically prescribed for several weeks to months.
  • Liquid nitrogen – Known as cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen freezes skin cells, destroying the lesion. When necessary, cryotherapy may be combined with medication to treat the lesion or lesions.
  • Photodynamic therapy – A photosensitizing agent is applied topically, and then activated by an intense, laser light targeted at the area being treated.
  • Chemical peels – A chemical solution is applied to the lesion and penetrates the skin. The peel used to treat actinic keratosis is stronger than the milder chemical peels normally associated with cosmetic procedures.
  • Fraxel® laser – Penetrates the skin’s top layers to remove the lesion. Lasers can target small, sensitive areas, such as lips, or hard to reach areas like behind the ears.