Seborrheic Keratosis​

Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic Keratosis research in Portland, Oregon,

Seborrheic keratoses (seb-o-REE-ick Ker-ah-TOE-sees) are often confused with warts or moles, though they are quite different. They are non-cancerous growths of the outer layer of skin. They are usually brown, but can vary in color, as well as in size. A main feature of seborrheic keratoses is their waxy, “stuck-on” look.

What is Seborrheic Keratosis?

Seborrheic Keratoses are growths of the upper layers of the skin. They are benign and due to age and genetics, and they never turn cancerous. They occur most commonly on the face, scalp and trunk and often people have several of them. They may begin as a tan or light brown spot with a slightly rough, wart-like surface. They can grow larger and darker in time, and occasionally the surface will crumble off and then re-form. Although they don’t need to be treated, they can be symptomatically annoying, irritated and itchy. They can be removed by several different methods if they are symptomatic. The numbers and locations are genetically determined.

What causes seborrheic keratoses?

Age and genetics are the main reason for growing seborrheic keratoses. Appearance, location, and of the keratoses and number of lesions are dependent on genetics, they are not caused by sunlight and can be found on sun-exposed or covered areas.

How serious are they?

These are the most common skin lesion dermatologists see. They do not indicate a serious health problem, and are not related to skin cancer. They may be unsightly, especially if they begin to appear on the face, but there is no need for treatment or removal unless they are bleeding or painful. Removal for cosmetic reasons is not covered by insurance.

Seborrheic keratosis may become very dark and can be difficult to distinguish from skin cancer. Sometimes such a growth should be removed and checked under a microscope to determine a definitive diagnosis.

Can they be prevented?

Salves, ointments, and medication can neither cure nor prevent seborrheic keratoses.

How are they treated?

Seborrheic keratoses can be treated by freezing with liquid nitrogen or removed surgically. Because these growths are completely benign, insurance will not cover treatment or removal for cosmetic purposes.

If a keratosis becomes large or dark, or if it’s bleeding or painful, there could be a case for removal and sending the lesion to a pathologist to determine a definitive diagnosis.