What is Seborrheic Keratoses?
Seborrheic keratoses is a common noncancerous skin growth. Despite its unbecoming appearance, it is harmless. These skin growths differ in color, are typically oval shaped and often raised, resembling the scaly look of a mole or wart. They can appear anywhere on the body, but commonly appear on the back, shoulders or chest. Seborrheic keratoses is not contagious and is common in middle-aged adults. Having multiple skin growths is also common. Measurements of these elevated growths may vary from pea size to quarter size. It is also possible to have seborrheic keratoses and basal cell carcinoma in the same area on the skin (a common skin cancer). Therefore, examination by a dermatologist is strongly recommended. Our board-certified Austin, TX dermatologists at Snyder Dermatology will provide a thorough skin exam and help by offering treatment options to reduce or eliminate this skin condition.
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Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis
The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. In most patients, irritation may occur due to its raised nature, but generally it does not itch or cause discomfort. It's important to be aware of how tight clothing may affect the condition as to avoid friction or collision of these raised skin lesions with other objects. Accidently scraping or puncturing seborrheic keratoses may be painful and lead to bleeding. Although it’s common to have slightly elevated growths, they may also be flat. The discoloration of seborrheic keratoses varies from black, brown, tan, yellow or white. The texture of these skin lesions also vary from rough, scaly, or scab like consistency.
How to Treat the Condition
Depending on the severity of the skin condition, seborrheic keratoses can be removed by laser treatment, freezing, electric therapy or scraping. Cryosurgery is used to freeze lesions with liquid nitrogen and is often very effective. Electric therapy (or electrocautery) burns the lesions with electric currents. Patients with lighter or flat growths are recommended to have the lesions removed through scraping or curettage. After the removal of seborrheic keratoses, the skin may be discolored, but this normally fades over time, especially with proper wound care. The removal of these skin growths does not guarantee that reoccurrence will not occur. The reoccurrence of seborrheic keratoses is possible even after surgical removal.
Despite seborrheic keratoses being benign, a check-up by a dermatologist is recommended because it greatly resembles melanoma in appearance, which is a harmful skin cancer. Doctors can perform a skin biopsy to confirm the lesion is benign if dermoscopy or clinical exam is not conclusive. A skin biopsy is a small surgical removal of some, or all of the lesion. Removing the growth by yourself can be dangerous and is not recommend. Improper attempts to remove seborrheic keratoses may lead to infection. Some argue overexposure to sunlight is a contributing factor to the occurrence of seborrheic keratoses, but it’s not certain.
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Seeing a dermatologist to properly diagnose seborrheic keratoses is highly encouraged, as it closely resembles melanoma in physical appearance. Our dedicated medical team exceedingly strives to provide the utmost professional care and we invite you to stop by for a consultation and diagnostic testing. A simple screening can relieve you from worry and position you on the way to clearer skin.