Seborrheic Keratosis

Dermatologist examines spots on a patient's back


Seborrheic Keratosis Overview

Seborrheic keratosis is a benign (non-cancerous) skin growth that becomes more prevalent with age; it is the most common benign skin condition in older people.

Although researchers don’t know what causes seborrheic keratoses, they are common skin growths that affect more than 200,000 people in the United States each year. Although anyone can develop seborrheic keratoses, you are at a greater risk of developing them if you have a family history, fair skin or are over the age of 50.

people affected in the U.S. each year


Seborrheic Keratosis Symptoms

While usually found on the head, neck, back or chest, seborrheic keratoses can appear anywhere on the body and may be very small to over an inch across. You may notice only one, but it is not unusual to have more than one growth.

Seborrheic keratoses can be confused for skin cancer because they usually appear scaly and slightly raised. Look for the following signs that may indicate you have a seborrheic keratosis:

Color ranging from tan and brown to black

Flat or slightly raised area with a scaly surface

Oval-shaped or rounded

Wart-like appearance

May look “pasted on”

Waxy appearance

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Seborrheic Keratosis Diagnosis

Diagnosis begins with a trip to your dermatologist. Your doctor will take your and your family’s medical history and examine the skin growths. These steps are usually all that is required to diagnose a seborrheic keratosis. Still, your doctor may remove a portion to examine under a microscope (biopsy) to rule out other skin conditions.


Seborrheic Keratosis Treatments

Although it is unnecessary to remove a seborrheic keratosis for medical reasons, some people find it embarrassing and wish to remove it to improve their appearance and stop itching. See below for various options for removing them:

Freezing (cryosurgery)

Freezing (cryosurgery)

Liquid nitrogen freezes the growth, causing it to wither and fall off. This method works best on flat growths.

Scraping (curettage)

Scraping (curettage)

After applying a numbing agent, the doctor uses a scalpel to remove the growth.

Burning (electrocautery)

Burning (electrocautery)

After applying a numbing agent, the doctor uses electricity to destroy the growth.

Vaporizing the growth (ablation)

Vaporizing the growth (ablation)

Laser removal.


Seborrheic Keratosis Specialists

1811 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 110, Santa Monica, CA 90403

1811 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 110, Santa Monica, CA 90403