Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic Keratosis: What Is It?

Seborrheic keratosis is a form of growth in the skin. It is often unsightly and causes an embarrassment for the patients but it is in no way harmful. There are times that it is hard to distinguish between melanoma and seborrheic keratosis – melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. You should always seek medical attention if your skin changes in an unexpected way.

The Look of Seborrheic Keratosis

This is usually very easy to spot by its look.


It usually appears in more than one place. You can have growths in the following places:

  • Shoulders
  • Stomach
  • Chest
  • Back

You will not find any growths on the palms or soles of your feet.


You will usually find that the growths are small and rough. They do get bigger though and have a wart-like appearance on the surface. The surfaces can be raised and they can look waxy.


They are usually oval or round in shape.


Most growths will be brown but they can also be white, black or yellow.

Those at Risk of Seborrheic Keratosis

Risk factors include:


Those over 40 are more at risk of developing the condition, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

Genetic condition:

Those with relatives already with the condition are at risk of developing it due to a genetic predisposition.

Frequent exposure to the sun:

The American Academy of Dermatology states that those who have long and frequent trips in the sun are more likely to develop the condition. There is still more research needed as the growths can appear on areas of the body that are usually covered when in public.

Talking to a Doctor

This is not a dangerous condition but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. You should never ignore any skin growths as you never know if it is a dangerous one. This could be melanoma and that should not be ignored.

Talk to your doctor if:

  • There are any new growths
  • The existing growths change in appearance
  • The growth has a strange color
  • There’s only one growth (this usually occurs in multiple growths)
  • It is irritable and painful
  • The borders of the growth are a strange color

Always make an appointment if you are worried about any growth you find. It is always better to be overly cautious instead of ignoring something that could be a serious problem.

Seborrheic Keratosis Diagnosis

The growths will usually be diagnosed by a dermatologist. When there is uncertainty, a biopsy will be performed where part of it is removed for tests. The growth will be looked at underneath a microscope and this helps to make sure it is not cancerous.

Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment Options

Most of the time, no treatment is needed. If there is something suspicious about the appearance, your doctor may choose to remove the growths. If they cause any emotional or physical discomfort, they can be removed.

Methods of removal:

There are two common removal methods, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the growths off. Curettage/electrosurgery scrapes the growth off with an electrical current, after numbing the area.

After the removal:

The skin under the growth can be lighter in color. You will not usually find that the growths appear where they were before and this change in skin color will disappear in time.