Seborrheic Keratosis, also known as “senile wart” is a harmless, noncancerous growth that is common for individuals to get as they age.
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Doctors don’t know what exactly causes these growths, but there are some studies that show genetics has a large role in whether or not you’ll develop it. Some also claim that lots of sun exposure increases your chances of developing Seborrheic Keratosis growths, so make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen!
In general, as one reaches and passes the age of 50 years old, the chance of getting some growths increases too.
More frequently, you’ll see growths in large numbers, but individual growths are not unheard of. The growths are usually:
- black, brown, light tan
- waxy, scaly top and slightly raised
- mostly present on head, neck, chest, back, and abdomen. But can be present anywhere
- round or oval shaped
- can be very small or even over in inch wide
- may itch
When should you call a doctor?
Even though these growths are not usually harmful, they can sometimes indicate a larger problem.
- When you get your first growth- Seborrheic Keratosis and Melanoma (a very serious skin cancer) look very similar so it would be safest to check with your doctor
- When you have numerous growths in a very short time span
- Growths get irritated and/or bleed when clothes rubs against them
- Abnormal changes in growth appear- sores, growths that bleed and don’t heal, etc- may indicate cancer
Diagnoses and Treatment
When you go to your dermatologist/specialist, usually they can diagnose just by looking at the growths. Sometimes, though, they will ask if they can take a sample of the growth to have it tested in a lab. This way they can make sure you don’t have skin cancer- or Melanoma. If you agree, they will take a sample by performing a skin biopsy.
By the way, a skin biopsy isn’t a very large procedure! It is not as scary as it sounds :))
Since Seborrheic Keratosis growths are not something to be concerned about, your dermatologist will leave them unless they are causing any problems or you simply don’t like the look and want them removed. In the case of removal, your dermatologist will do one of these:
- Cryosurgery- using liquid nitrogen. This will work unless the growth is too large/thick.
- Curretage- scraping off the growth after numbing your skin
- Electrocautery- burning it off with an electric current
- Ablation- laser removal
- Applying Hydrogen peroxide- aka Eskata- which has been proven to remove Seborrheic Keratosis but can irritate skin