Seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are common skin growths. These benign (non-cancerous) growths can occur almost anywhere on the skin. Some people get just one and others develop many. Having multiple SKs is more common.
Usually beginning as small, rough bumps, SKs tend to eventually thicken and develop a warty surface. Most are brown, but these growths range in color from light tan to black. Some SKs measure a fraction of an inch; others are larger than a half-dollar. A SK can be flat or raised. Sometimes the surface feels smooth.
What often distinguishes these growths from other lesions is a waxy, pasted-on-the-skin appearance. SKs can look like a dab of warm, brown candle wax on the skin. It also may resemble a barnacle attached to a ship. Either way, SKs tend to have that “stuck-on-the-skin” appearance.
SKs seem to run in families, and it appears that some people inherit a tendency to develop many SKs. Although these growths develop on both sun-exposed and non sun-exposed skin, some studies suggest that sun exposure may play a role. The exact cause is unknown. And while SKs may seem to multiply and spread to other areas, they are not contagious.
Since SKs are benign, treatment is generally not necessary. There times, though, when these lesions should be examined by one of our dermatologists. Sometimes a SK grows quickly, turns black, itches, or bleeds, making it difficult to distinguish from skin cancer. Such a growth must be biopsied to determine if it is cancerous or not.
Occasionally, numerous new SKs develop suddenly. If this occurs, see one of our dermatologists. This can indicate a serious health problem.
Treatment may be recommended if the growth is large or easily irritated by clothing or jewelry. Sometimes, a SK is treated because the patient considers it unsightly.
Cryosurgery, electrosurgery, and curettage are the most common options for removing SKs.
*Results and patient experience may vary.