Seborrheic keratosis is a skin growth that appears in adulthood. Although they may be large and grow quickly, they are benign. They are not caused by sun damage so they can be found in areas that are also usually covered by clothing. Seborrheic keratosis tends to be genetic. Initially, they appear as slightly raised, light brown spots and evolve into darker, thicker lesions with rough, warty surfaces.
Typically, Providers can diagnose seborrheic keratoses just by looking at them. If there is any uncertainty about it being cancerous, they will likely take a biopsy (remove a small part of it) and examine it under a microscope. The risk of developing these lesions increases with old age and a family history of developing them. Though they are not directly caused by sun damage and are often found in areas that are usually covered by clothing, there may be a link between levels of sun exposure and seborrheic keratosis.
According to Mayo Clinic, seborrheic keratosis:
- Ranges in color from light tan to brown or black
- Is round or has an oval shape
- Is flat or slightly raised with a scaly surface
- Ranges in size from very small to more than one inch across
- May itch
Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment
Seborrheic keratosis is generally harmless, and there aren’t many treatments beyond removing it. Some people choose to have them removed if the growths become unsightly or itchy, or become irritated from rubbing against clothing.
Removal methods include cryotherapy, shave biopsy, laser surgery, curettage, and cautery. The skin may appear a bit lighter but should gradually return to its natural tone. The scar and discoloration after treatment can be permanent.
Who is Most Likely to Get it?
Family history may mean you’re more likely to get seborrheic keratosis. The likelihood of it increases as you age, with many people getting them above age 50.