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.