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Seborrheic Keratosis

At some point, most people will discover at least one seborrheic keratosis, one of the most common, non-cancerous skin growths. Seborrheic keratoses usually show up in older adults and appear as black, brown, or pale growths on the back, chest, face, or shoulders. Although seborrheic keratoses can appear by themselves, usually more than one growth develops.

No exact cause has been identified, but seborrheic keratoses seem to run in families, and some people seem more prone to having seborrheic keratoses. Sun exposure may increase the odds of developing a seborrheic keratosis.

Symptoms
The following signs often indicate a seborrheic keratosis:

  • A waxy or wart-like growth
  • Flat or slightly elevated appearance with a scaly surface
  • Growth that looks pasted on
  • Itchiness
  • Round or oval shaped growth

Normally, seborrheic keratoses appear one to two at a time over several years. See your doctor if:

  • Numerous growths appear in short time
  • Bleeding or irritation occurs from clothing
  • Suspicious changes take place in the skin

Treatment
Generally, a seborrheic keratosis requires no treatment. Patients often choose to remove the benign growths if they bleed, become irritated or look unsightly. Insurance does not usually cover the removal of a seborrheic keratosis when it is for cosmetic reasons only. Because seborrheic keratoses do not develop deep roots, removal is easy and does not usually leave scars.

To remove the seborrheic keratosis, your doctor can:

  • Freeze the growth with liquid nitrogen
  • Scrape the area with a curettage
  • Burn the spot with an electric current

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