Seborrheic keratosis Definition
Seborrheic keratosis is a condition that causes wart-like growths on the skin. The growths are noncancerous (
Benign skin tumors - keratosis; Keratosis - seborrheic; Senile keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis is a benign form of skin
tumor. The cause is unknown.
The condition commonly appears after age 40. It tends to run in families.
Symptoms of seborrheic keratosis are skin growths that:
Are located on the face, chest, shoulders, back, or other areas
Are painless, but may become irritated and itch
Are most often tan, brown, or black
Have a slightly raised, flat surface
May have a rough texture (like a wart)
Often have a waxy surface
Are round or oval in shape
May look "pasted-on"
Often appear in clusters Exams and Tests
Your health care provider will look at the growths to determine if you have the condition. You may need a
skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
You usually do not need treatment unless growths get irritated or affect your appearance.
Growths may be removed with surgery or freezing (cryotherapy).
Removing the growths is simple and usually does not cause scars. You may have patches of lighter skin where growths on the torso have been removed.
Growths usually do not return after they are removed. You may develop more growths in the future if you are prone to the condition.
These complications may occur:
Irritation, bleeding, or discomfort of growths
Mistake in diagnosis (growths may look like skin cancer tumors)
Distress due to physical appearance
Many growths that come on suddenly (may be a sign of cancer inside the body) When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of seborrheic keratosis.
Also call if you have new symptoms, such as:
A change in the appearance of the skin growth
A growth that looks like a seborrheic keratosis, but occurs by itself or has ragged borders and irregular color. (Your health care provider will need to examine it for skin cancer.) References Brodsky J. Management of benign skin lesions commonly affecting the face: actinic keratosis, seborrheic keratosis, and rosacea.
Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;17:315-320.
James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds.
Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 29.
Requena L, Requena C, Cockerell CJ. Benign epidermal tumors and proliferations. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds.
Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 109.
Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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