Seborrheic keratoses are skin growths that appear in adulthood, and although they may be large and grow quickly, they are benign. SKs initially appear as slightly raised, light brown spots and evolve into darker, thicker lesions with rough, warty surfaces.
These types of growths are distinct, and doctors can often diagnose them by visual examination alone. If there is any uncertainty about a seborrheic keratosis being cancerous, however, they’ll likely take a biopsy (remove a small part of it) and examine it under a microscope. Although there may be a link between levels of sun exposure and SK lesions, they’re most commonly tied to old age and genetics. This means you can find them anywhere on the body — even areas usually covered by clothing.
Seborrheic Keratosis Indicators
According to the American Academy of Dermatology a seborrheic keratosis:
- Ranges in color from white to black, most are tan or brown
- Can be found anywhere on the skin, except the palms and soles
- Is most often seen on the chest, back, head, or neck
- Is a non-cancerous grown that can have a thick, warty surface
- Is not contagious
Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment
An SK lesion is generally harmless, but if it becomes unsightly, itchy, or irritated from rubbing against clothing, you may choose to have it removed.
Removal methods include cryotherapy, shave biopsy, laser surgery, curettage, and cautery. Regardless of the technique used, however, the results are permanent — after removal, a new growth will not reform in its place. The skin may appear a bit lighter temporarily, but should gradually return to its natural tone.
Who is Most Likely to Get it?
A family history of seborrheic keratoses may mean you’re more likely to get them, too. The likelihood increases as you age, and growths become more common after age 50.