Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic Keratoses are very common, benign growths of the skin. These growths may be confused with warts or moles. The primary clinical feature of seborrheic keratoses is they look as though they are pasted onto the surface of the skin. They are most commonly located on the chest or back but can essentially be located anywhere on the body with the exception of the palms and soles. They are usually various shades of brown but vary from light tan to black, and range in size from 1-2 millimeters to several centimeters or larger in size. Seborrheic keratoses frequently become irritated, inflamed and itchy.

What causes seborrheic keratoses?

The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. Some of them begin as flat sun spots and become thickened, with a rough surface. They tend to run in families but are not, strictly speaking, genetically inherited. They tend to accumulate with increasing age, but are still commonly found in males and females starting from the late teen-age years. They do not represent an infection and are not contagious.

Treatment of seborrheic keratoses

The removal of seborrheic keratoses is generally not necessary, since they represent benign growths with extremely low malignant potential. Individuals frequently do request removal of them, however, because they are itchy and irritated, or because of their unsightly appearance. The following methods are commonly employed for seborrheic keratosis removal:

Liquid nitrogen (freezing) alone
Liquid nitrogen, followed by curettage (scraping)
Electrofulguration (burning) with local anesthesia
Shave removal with local anesthesia

Because skin malignancies including malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma or even basal cell carcinoma can occasionally mimic seborrheic keratosis, suspicious lesions should be evaluated by a dermatologist.