What is Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic keratosis (SK) is a common skin growth that begins to show in middle age people. Although its name and appearance sound scary, they are actually benign and harmless.
Since they begin to develop with age, SK has also been nicknamed the “barnacles of aging” because when there’s one growth, there are usually many.
What Does Seborrheic Keratosis Look Like?
Seborrheic keratosis can develop anywhere on the body except for the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. They most often appear on the scalp, face, neck, shoulders, back, chest, and stomach. The color can vary from light white, tan, or dark brown/black. Their size also varies from small dots to the size of a quarter.
Before seborrheic keratosis begins to form, the skin will feel waxy or bumpy in texture and may itch or tingle. The area will thicken and form growths that look like warts or moles. They may look similar to skin cancers such as melanoma, which is why it is important to have a dermatologist look at it.
What Causes Seborrheic Keratosis?
It is still not clear what the cause of seborrheic keratosis is. If you have a family history of SK, you may be at a greater risk of developing this skin condition. Other factors that increase the risk of seborrheic keratosis are:
- Chronic friction
- Darker skin tone
- Hormonal changes
- Sun exposure
How Is Seborrheic Keratosis Diagnosed?
A dermatologist will diagnosis seborrheic keratosis by assessing the area and examining the growth’s appearance and texture. Sometimes, they will take a biopsy to view its cells under a microscope to rule out melanoma or other skin conditions.
How Is Seborrheic Keratosis Treated?
Since they are benign, it is not necessary to treat seborrheic keratoses. However, if their appearance is bothersome, if they get caught in your clothing or jewelry, and or if they become itchy/irritated, you have different options for removal.
- Freezing: Liquid nitrogen can be used as cryotherapy to freeze the growths, causing them to fall off after a few days.
- Electrocautery: A needle with a low-voltage electrical current is applied to the growth to burn it off.
- Laser ablation: A laser is used to vaporize and remove the seborrheic keratoses.
- Shave excision: The keratoses are removed with a sterile razor.
- Curettage: The growths are sliced or scraped off using an instrument called a curette.
Depending on the method used and the size of the SK, your skin will heal anywhere from 1-4 weeks. Typically, the removed SK won’t come back, but new ones may grow in other areas.
Clear Your Skin of Seborrheic Keratosis Today
Schedule a consultation with our certified medical provider, Dr. Ellie Zarnegar today, and learn more about how she can help you clear your skin of seborrheic keratoses. Call or text us at 925.855.1773 or request a consultation online.