What are seborrheic keratoses?
Seborrheic keratoses (say "seh-buh-REE-ick kair-uh-TOH-seez") are skin growths that some people get as they age. They are benign, which means they aren't a type of cancer. The way they look may bother you, but they aren't harmful.
These skin growths often appear on the back or chest, but they can occur on any part of the body. They grow slowly and seldom go away on their own.
These skin growths are common in middle-aged and older people, but they can appear as early as the teen years. Some women get them during pregnancy or after taking estrogen. Children seldom have them.
What causes seborrheic keratoses?
Experts don't know what causes seborrheic keratoses. But research has found that:
What are the symptoms?
Seborrheic keratoses can itch, bleed easily, or become red and irritated when clothing rubs them.
How the growths look can vary widely. They:
How are seborrheic keratoses diagnosed?
Your doctor will look at the skin growth. He or she may need to take a sample (biopsy) of the growth if it's not clear what the growth is or if it:
How are they treated?
Seborrheic keratoses don't need to be treated. But if one bothers you or you don't like how it looks, your doctor can remove it. Your doctor may:
Should you worry about seborrheic keratoses?
A diagnosed seborrheic keratosis usually is nothing to worry about. But if you are unsure what type of skin growth you have, see your doctor. It may be hard to tell whether the growth is a keratosis, a mole, a wart, or skin cancer.
While it isn't common, skin cancer can grow in a seborrheic keratosis. So if you have a seborrheic keratosis that is growing fast, looks unusual, or is bleeding or causing pain, see your doctor or dermatologist.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.