Seborrheic Keratosis
En Español (Spanish Version)

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

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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

Risk Factors
Seborrheic keratosis is more common in people aged 40 years and older and in those with a family history.

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

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Dermatology Association


References:
Seborrheic keratosis. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/q---t/seborrheic-keratoses. Accessed September 28, 2014.

Seborrheic keratosis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/?page=SeborrheicKeratoses. Accessed September 28, 2014.

Seborrheic keratosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 18, 2013. Accessed September 28, 2014.

Last Reviewed August 2014



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