Seborrheic keratosis is a benign skin growth that can be confused with warts, moles or sometimes skin cancer.
Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis
There is no clear cause of seborrheic keratosis, but the non-malignant lesions are common growths which typically start after the age of 30. These benign growths can occur almost anywhere on the skin, and often run in families. They are not contagious or dangerous, and cannot be passed from person-to-person.
Signs & Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis can appear as either a single lesion or multiple growths (seborrheic keratoses). They can be found on almost all parts of the body, except the palms and soles. Seborrheic keratoses often appear:
- Light in color or tan to dark brown in color, although most lesions are brown
- Slightly raised
- Rough textured
- In a variety of sizes
- As a single lesion or multiple lesions
The lesions are usually painless, but may be itchy or become irritated depending on the location.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Seborrheic Keratosis
A dermatologist can often diagnose seborrheic keratosis by simply looking at the lesion. Since some lesions may resemble skin cancer, if the growth appears suspicious, a biopsy may be done to confirm diagnosis.
Most seborrheic keratoses do not require treatment, but they may be treated if they become large or irritated. Patients may also request the growths be taken off for aesthetic purposes.
Removal of seborrheic keratosis can be performed in a dermatology clinic and include:
- Cryosurgery: Using liquid nitrogen, the growth is frozen and falls off within a few days.
- Electrosurgery: An anesthetic is used to numb the area where the growth is located and the growth is cauterized using an electric current and then removed.
Seborrheic keratoses usually will not return following removal, but new lesions may appear elsewhere on the body.
Since other more serious skin conditions can be mistaken for seborrheic keratoses, a dermatologist should evaluate any growth that appears suddenly, grows quickly, bleeds or darkens in color.