Seborrheic Keratoses

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What Is Seborrheic Keratosis?

A seborrheic keratosis is a common, harmless, wartlike growth that tends to increase in number with age. It is often mistaken for skin cancer, given its ability to grow to a large size and appear similar to moles.

What Causes Seborrheic Keratosis?

A genetic component may play a role in the development of these spots. The condition can affect any part of the body although it mainly occurs on the chest, abdomen and back. Seborrheic keratoses can grow large and appear concerning, but in general, they do not become skin cancer.

Seborrheic Keratosis Symptoms

Seborrheic keratosis can appear as single or multiple rough bumps on the skin, ranging from dark brown to white. They can appear anywhere on the body. Other symptoms include:

  • Small, rough bumps that slowly thicken and develop a warty surface
  • Waxy, stuck-on-the-skin appearance
  • Brown or range in color from white to black
  • Size from a fraction of an inch to larger than a half-dollar.
  • Found on the chest, back, stomach, scalp, face, neck or other parts of the body (but not on the palms and soles)
  • Itching but no pain

Treatment for Seborrheic Keratosis

Because seborrheic keratoses are harmless, they usually do not need treatment. Your dermatologist may remove a seborrheic keratosis if it becomes:

  • Hard to distinguish from skin cancer
  • Large or gets easily irritated when clothes or jewelry rub against it
  • Unsightly to a patient

At UCLA Dermatology, our specialists may use one of the following treatments to remove a seborrheic keratosis:

  • Cryosurgery using liquid nitrogen to freeze the growth and cause it to fall off
  • Electrosurgery and curettage to first numb the growth, then cauterize (burn) the growth and then scrape off the treated growth.

After removing the seborrheic keratosis, your physician may perform a biopsy on it to check for skin cancer.

Contact Us

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (310) 825-6911.