Seborrheic keratosis is a kind of growth on the skin that is non-cancerous. Learn about its signs and symptoms, as well as the available treatment options, in the following HealthHearty article.
Seborrheic keratosis is a common kind of non-cancerous growth on the skin that occurs in older people. The term ‘seborrheic’ implies ‘greasy’ while ‘keratosis’ means the skin getting thickened. It may occur just singly or appear in clusters. The condition starts off by being light tan in color, but usually darken to a dark brown or almost black color. They can be small rounded spots or form long patterns that can measure several inches. The appearance is scaly and waxy to touch. Although they may look like cancerous growths on the skin, keratosis typically does not get cancerous.
It is usually painless, requiring no treatment. Although, many people decide to have these growths removed due to cosmetic reasons or, if the clothing causes them to become irritated.
It usually occurs on the face, shoulders, chest, and back. One of the main features is the stuck-on or pasted-on waxy look, and it seems like the brown candle wax has been dropped on the skin. When they occur on the face, they can be quite unsightly.
This skin condition does not spread to other people because it is not contagious. Plus, it does not cause any health risks because it has got nothing to do with skin cancer. They often become a darker shade when sunless tanning creams are used. Some people are simply more prone to them, and with increasing age, they just get more of them. Occasionally, there may be an eruption of seborrheic keratoses during pregnancy, either due to some medical problems or because of hormone replacement therapy.
It is not caused due to exposure to the sun, and is usually hereditary. In fact, people often inherit the characteristics, like, the locations as well as the patterns they have a tendency to grow in. A different kind of keratosis may occur are liver spots, also referred to as solar lentigines, but these are usually rare. A few growths that are brown and rough, and occur on the face, may actually be actinic keratosis, which is caused due to sun damage.
Although skin keratosis is usually not painful, it can become bothersome, depending on its location and size. Care must be taken not to pick, scratch, or rub them, as it may cause them to become inflamed, thus leading to bleeding as well as infection.
When clothing rubs on them it can result in irritating the seborrheic keratoses and worsen the condition. Mild steroid creams and alpha hydroxy lotions may alleviate the skin problem. However, in case they bleed easily, are irritated and feel itchy, they need to be removed. If the color of the bumps becomes black, a biopsy may be required to distinguish them from skin cancer.
Usually, seborrheic keratosis does not need any treatment. However, if they bleed because of clothing rubbing on them, or because people find them unsightly, they may want to have them removed.
Since it is not deeply rooted, removing the growths from the skin surface is quite a simple procedure, and generally does not cause any scarring. There are various methods of removing seborrheic keratoses, such as:
Cryosurgery, or use of liquid nitrogen to freeze them: This is usually an effective method of removing these outgrowths. However, it may not be as effective for thick and large growths, and it may also cause hypopigmentation, or lightening of the treated area of the skin.
Curettage, or use of a special instrument to scrape the skin: Sometimes flat or thin growths may be treated with this method along with cryosurgery.
Electrocautery, or use of an electric current to destroy the tissue: Used by itself, or along with curettage, this is a highly effective method of getting rid of warts. However, if not done properly, it may cause scarring. Also, compared to the other methods, this may take a longer time.