What Is Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic keratosis is a common non-cancerous skin growth typically older individuals. It is also known as seborrheic verruca, senile wart, or basal cell papilloma, although it is not related to warts or basal cell carcinoma. Seborrheic keratoses usually develop on the face, chest, shoulders, or back, but they can occur on other parts of the body as well. These growths are usually brown, black, or tan and have a waxy or scaly texture. They may vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters and often have a slightly elevated, rough surface. Seborrheic keratoses can occur as solitary growths or in clusters.
The exact cause of seborrheic keratosis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to genetic factors and aging. They are more common in individuals over 50, and there may be a familial predisposition. Seborrheic keratoses are typically harmless and do not require treatment unless they become bothersome or cosmetically undesirable. In such cases, they can be removed through various methods, including freezing (cryotherapy), scraping (curettage), or burning (electrocautery). It is important to have any suspicious skin growths evaluated by a dermatologist to rule out other more serious conditions, as seborrheic keratosis can resemble certain types of skin cancer.
Appearance Of Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis can develop anywhere on the body (except for the palms and soles). They are especially prominent on the head, neck, back, and chest and can appear in bunches or as individual growths.
Visually, seborrheic keratosis resembles warts with a waxy texture. They range in color from white to black, but most are tan or brown or just a few shades darker than the person's skin tone. Individuals are most likely to notice growths first appearing in their middle ages or later. Seborrheic keratosis starts out as small bumps with a rough texture and gradually thickens to as large as half a dollar.
Seborrheic Keratosis Symptoms
Although the symptoms are usually mild to nonexistent, seborrheic keratosis symptoms can sometimes cause discomfort. The growths are not generally associated with pain. However, they can cause itchiness or even bleed profusely after rubbing against surfaces. If you experience these symptoms, let our dermatologists in Boardman and Warren, OH, treat them with an alpha-hydroxy lotion or a topical steroid.
Who Gets Seborrheic Keratoses?
Seborrheic keratoses are very common skin growths, with the vast majority of adults over 60 years having at least one seborrheic keratosis growth. These skin growths occur in males, females, and people of all races and ethnicities. They typically begin to develop on the skin when a person is 30–40 years of age.
Seborrheic keratoses are not common in individuals under the age of 20 years. While any person can develop seborrheic keratoses, this condition most commonly affects people 50 or older, those with a family history of seborrheic keratosis, and those with lighter skin.
Causes Of Seborrheic Keratosis
What causes seborrheic keratosis remains a mystery. However, physicians have found discernible trends regarding these skin growths.
Seborrheic keratosis tends to affect middle-aged and elderly people. After 50 years of age, people can expect seborrheic keratoses to appear at some point. These skin growths are rarely found on children.
A genetic predisposition to seborrheic keratosis can run in a family’s history and be inherited by generations of family members.
Skin tone can somewhat determine the frequency and size of skin growths: people with lighter complexions are more prone to larger sizes and quantities of seborrheic keratoses than those with darker skin tones.
There seems to be a correlation between higher rates of long-term sun exposure and increased incidence rates of seborrheic keratosis.
When To Consult A Dermatologist
A dermatologist can diagnose a seborrheic keratosis through examination. A few seborrheic keratoses that develop gradually over time is normal and usually not a cause for concern, especially for people older than 50. However, if several skin growths appear in a short amount of time, or existing skin growths change color, that could signal a skin condition other than seborrheic keratosis, and an examination is necessary.
A dermatologist can determine whether wart-like growths are seborrheic keratosis (benign) or actinic keratosis (precancerous) based on their appearance. But in cases where the growth resembles skin cancer, the dermatologist may perform an additional biopsy to form a definitive diagnosis.
Seborrheic Keratosis Removal Treatments
Seborrheic keratosis removal may be required when skin growths itch or bleed as a result of them rubbing against clothing. Dermatologists may also remove a seborrheic keratosis for cosmetic reasons. Growths on the face or neck may be unsightly and affect a person’s self-confidence. Our skincare specialist can utilize cryosurgery or electrocautery to surgically remove a seborrheic keratosis to reveal the person’s beautiful, blemish-free skin. To explore your options for skincare, schedule a consultation.