Seborrheic keratosis is a type of benign raised growth on the skin. The growths develop from the top layer of skin. These growths may look like warts, but do not extend deep into the skin, or contain the viruses that cause warts.

Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious, do not spread, or do not turn into cancerous tumors. In most cases, treatment is not required.

Skin Section with Seborrheic Keratosis

skin section mole

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Causes

The direct cause of seborrheic keratosis is unknown, but it may be linked to genetics.

Risk Factors

Age over 40 years, and family history increase your chances of developing seborrheic keratosis.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include skin growths that may be:

  • Yellow, tan, brown, or black
  • Raised
  • Itchy if irritated by clothing or jewelry
  • Round or oval in shape
Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis upon examination of the skin growth. You may need further testing, such as a biopsy, to rule out other skin conditions.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Seborrheic keratoses do not pose a threat to your health. The best course of action may be to leave them alone. If they itch or become irritated, or if you feel they affect your appearance, they can be removed.

Treatment options include:

Medications

If you have irritated seborrheic keratoses, your doctor may recommend topical corticosteroids.

Surgery

In some cases, you and your doctor may decide to remove the seborrheic keratoses. Surgical options include:

  • Freezing the growth, which falls off a few days later
  • Removal with a razor or scalpel
  • Laser surgery to burn the growth off
Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent seborrheic keratosis.