Seborrheic keratosis is noncancerous (benign) wart-like growths on the surface of the skin.
Benign skin tumors - keratosis; Keratosis - seborrheic; Senile keratosis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Seborrheic keratosis is a benign form of skin tumor. The cause is unknown. The condition commonly appears after age 40.
Symptoms are skin growths that:
- Are located on the face, chest, shoulders, back, or other areas
- Are usually painless, but may become irritated and itch
- Are yellow, brown, black, or other colors
- Have a slightly elevated, flat surface
- May have a rough or wart-like texture
- Often have a waxy surface
- Have a round-to-oval shape
- May have a "pasted-on" appearance
- May be single, but are usually multiple growths
Signs and tests
Diagnosis is based primarily on the appearance of the growths. A skin lesion biopsy may be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment is usually not required unless the growths become irritated or are unsightly.
If treatment is needed, growths may be removed with surgery or freezing (cryotherapy).
Removing the growths is simple and usually does not result in scars. However, growths on the trunk often leave the skin lighter colored.
In rare cases, a person who gets many growths very quickly may have gastric cancer.
Growths usually do not return after they are removed, but people who are prone to this condition may develop more growths in the future.
- Irritation, discomfort of growths
- Misdiagnosis (it may be difficult to tell apart from malignant melanoma in some cases)
- Psychological distress from change in appearance
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of seborrheic keratosis.
Also call if you develop new symptoms, including:
- A change in the appearance of the skin growth
- New growths
Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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