Definition

Seborrheic keratosis is a raised growth on the skin. It is not cancerous and does not spread to others.

Causes

The exact cause it not known. Genetics may play a role.

Risk Factors

Seborrheic keratosis is more common in people aged 40 years and older. It is also more common in people with fair skin and a family history of this problem.

Symptoms

Most people have more than one growth. The growths may:

  • Look yellow, tan, brown, white, or black
  • Be waxy or look like warts
  • Be itchy when irritated by clothing or jewelry
  • Happen anywhere on the skin

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the skin. This is often enough to make the diagnosis in most people. A skin biopsy may be done on some people to confirm the diagnosis.

Punch Biopsy of the Skin
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Treatment

The growth is harmless and does not need to be removed. Some people may want it removed when it is irritated by clothing or jewelry or is unsightly. This may result in small dark or light spot or a scar.

It can be removed using:

  • A tool to scrape it off
  • Cryotherapy to freeze the growth, which falls off a few days later
  • Laser surgery to burn the growth off

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent this problem.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019 -
  • Update Date: 12/10/2019 -