Learn more about the symptoms and treatments of this common, noncancerous skin growth common in older adults.
A seborrheic keratosis (seb-o-REE-ik ker-uh-TOE-sis) is a common noncancerous skin growth. People tend to get more of them as they get older.
Seborrheic keratoses are usually brown, black or light tan. The growths look waxy, scaly and slightly raised. They usually appear on the head, neck, chest or back.
Seborrheic keratoses are harmless and not contagious. They don't need treatment, but you may decide to have them removed if they become irritated by clothing or you don't like how they look.
A seborrheic keratosis usually looks like a waxy or wartlike growth. It typically appears on the face, chest, shoulders or back. You may develop a single growth, though multiple growths are more common.
A seborrheic keratosis:
See your doctor if:
Doctors don't know exactly what causes seborrheic keratoses. The growths tend to run in some families, so genes may play a role.
You're generally more likely to develop seborrheic keratoses if you're over age 50. You're also more likely to have them if you have a family history of the condition.
Your doctor can usually diagnose a seborrheic keratosis just by looking at it. Your doctor may recommend removing it so that it can be examined under a microscope if there is a question about the diagnosis.
Treatment of a seborrheic keratosis isn't usually needed. Be careful not to rub, scratch or pick at it. This can lead to itching, pain and bleeding.
You can have a seborrheic keratosis removed if it becomes irritated or bleeds, or if you don't like how it looks or feels.
Several options are available for removing a seborrheic keratosis:
You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. In some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred directly to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist).
Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
For a seborrheic keratosis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions that come up during your appointment.
Your doctor may ask:
December 24th, 2020