What is a seborrheic keratosis?
Seborrheic keratosis (the plural form is seborrheic keratoses) is a benign growth that is very commonly seen on the skin of adults. Children do not tend to form seborrheic keratoses, these growths typically don’t appear until adulthood. These growths are often confused with moles or warts, but they are different. The telltale sign of a seborrheic keratosis is a “stuck on” appearance, almost as though it could be peeled right off of the skin.
What do seborrheic keratoses look like?
Seborrheic keratoses start as flattish, rough bumps on the skin. Over time they may become thicker and even appear wart-like. Most seborrheic keratoses are brown, but they can be white, skin colored or very dark in color. These growths are most commonly seem on the trunk, arms, legs, and face, though they may occur almost anywhere on the body. They are not painful, but can become itchy when inflamed.
What causes seborrheic keratoses to form?
The exact cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown, but we do know that they tend to appear during adulthood. People with a family history of seborrheic keratoses (those whose family members have them) are more likely to develop the growths themselves. There is some evidence that sun exposure may play a role in the development of seborrheic keratoses, but this is not clear and more studies are needed on this topic. Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious, so people do not “catch” them from close contacts, nor do they spread them to other areas of their own body.
Can seborrheic keratoses be removed?
There are several reasons why a seborrheic keratosis may be removed. If the lesion appears very similar to a skin cancer, your dermatologist may suggest performing a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of the growth. If the seborrheic keratosis is large or becomes inflamed, the lesion can be removed with cryosurgery. Cryosurgery utilizes liquid nitrogen spray to freeze the lesion; a few days after the treatment, the seborrheic keratosis simply flakes off of the skin. Another method of removing these growths is to currete them off the skin, meaning to scrape them off of the area with a tool called a currete. The last reason to remove a seborrheic keratosis from the skin is if it is simply cosmetically undesirable, perhaps it is in a visible location or is growing to be quite large. These lesions can be removed by your dermatologist.
How do I know if a growth is a seborrheic keratosis?
Seborrheic keratoses can be easily confused with moles or warts on the skin. It is important to have a dermatologist or dermatology PA evaluate the growth to confirm its diagnosis. Schweiger Dermatology recommends that all new growths on the body be evaluated promptly.