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Seborrheic Keratosis

Alternate Names

  • seborrheic warts
  • verruca seborrheica
  • keratosis seborrheica
  • Seborrheic keratosis

Definition

Seborrheic keratosis is a condition in which harmless growths develop on the skin.

What is going on in the body?

Seborrheic keratoses are benign growths of the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, but they most often occur on the face, chest, and back. They tend to grow slowly over time.
Some persons have hundreds of individual keratoses. They do not represent cancer, but people who have large numbers of lesions must take care not to assume all lesions are keratoses and thus miss a developing skin cancer.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Although the cause of seborrheic keratosis is unknown, the condition does tend to run in families. The condition is more likely as an individual becomes older, and the number of growths generally increases with age.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no prevention for seborrheic keratosis.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Most seborrheic keratoses can be recognized as such by a healthcare professional simply from looking at them. However, in a patient being seen for the first time with this condition, a careful examination with a bright flashlight and magnifying lens is in order.
Some seborrheic keratoses may be very dark and could be confused with melanoma, a type of skin cancer. The professional may take a skin biopsy of these areas to make sure there is no evidence of cancer.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Some seborrheic keratoses become very large or unsightly. A person may want to have these removed.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious, and pose no risk to others.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

Generally, no treatment is needed for seborrheic keratosis. Very large growths or growths that appear on the face or in areas of chronic irritation can be removed. Freezing, burning, scraping or laser are common methods of removal.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

Seborrheic keratosis is a harmless skin disorder and no follow-up is necessary. However, any new areas or changes should be examined by the healthcare professional to check for more serious skin disorders.

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