Seborrheic Keratosis

What is seborrheic keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is a very common skin growth. You are more likely to have this kind of skin growth as you get older. It is not harmful or painful and usually does not need treatment.

What is the cause?

The cause of seborrheic keratosis is not known. It tends to run in families.

What are the symptoms?

These growths usually start as tiny raised, tan or brown spots, but may be so dark that they look almost black. Sometimes they look like they have been stuck onto the skin. They may be scaly or waxy. The spots tend to get larger and thicker over months and years, and often grow in groups. They may be found on any part of the body, but are most common on the trunk, legs, and arms.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine your skin. You may have a biopsy, which is the removal of a small sample of tissue from the growth for testing.

How is it treated?

If seborrheic keratosis does not cause problems, it usually does not need treatment. You may want to remove the growth if:

  • You don’t like the way it looks.
  • It catches on clothing or jewelry and itches or bleeds.
  • You have a cut near the growth that gets infected.

If you don’t treat the growths, they will not go away. The growth can be frozen, burned, surgically removed, treated with chemicals, or removed with a laser.

How can I take care of myself?

It’s a good idea to contact your healthcare provider about any change in your skin that concerns you. Many skin changes or growths are not cancerous, but some can become cancer. All cancers are easier to treat early rather than late, so see your provider to have any skin changes checked as soon as possible.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-03-04
Last reviewed: 2014-05-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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