Seborrheic Keratosis

(Benign Skin Tumors)
  • Definition

    Seborrheic keratosis is a type of benign raised growth on the skin. The growths develop from the top layer of skin. These growths may look like warts, but do not extend deep into the skin, or contain the viruses that cause warts.
    Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious, do not spread, or do not turn into cancerous tumors. In most cases, treatment is not required.
    Skin Section with Seborrheic Keratosis
    skin section mole
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Causes

    The direct cause of seborrheic keratosis is unknown, but it may be linked to genetics.
  • Risk Factors

    Age over 40 years, and family history increase your chances of developing seborrheic keratosis.
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include skin growths that may be:
    • Yellow, tan, brown, or black
    • Raised
    • Itchy if irritated by clothing or jewelry
    • Round or oval in shape
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis upon examination of the skin growth. You may need further testing, such as a biopsy, to rule out other skin conditions.
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Seborrheic keratoses do not pose a threat to your health. The best course of action may be to leave them alone. If they itch or become irritated, or if you feel they affect your appearance, they can be removed.
    Treatment options include:
    Medications
    If you have irritated seborrheic keratoses, your doctor may recommend topical corticosteroids.
    Surgery
    In some cases, you and your doctor may decide to remove the seborrheic keratoses. Surgical options include:
    • Freezing the growth, which falls off a few days later
    • Removal with a razor or scalpel
    • Laser surgery to burn the growth off
  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent seborrheic keratosis.
  • RESOURCES

    American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org

    American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca

    Dermatologists.ca http://www.dermatologists.ca

    References

    Seborrheic keratosis. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/q---t/sebhorrheic-keratoses. Accessed June 4, 2013.

    Seborrheic keratosis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic%5Fdiseases/seborrheic%5Fkeratos.html. Accessed June 4, 2013.

    Seborrheic keratosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated May 14, 2013. Accessed June 4, 2013.

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