Seborrheic Keratosis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Seborrheic Keratosis?|Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis|Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis|Risk Factors of Seborrheic Keratosis|Diagnosis of Seborrheic Keratosis|Treatment for Seborrheic Keratosis
    Seborrheic Keratosis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

    What is Seborrheic Keratosis?

    Many times there are warts and marks on the skin which do not appear to be harmful. However, they become troublesome with time. Seborrheic keratosis is one such condition that can be identified by wart-like growth on the skin, except for palms and soles. Mostly, these are not very problematic. People do seek treatment for aesthetic or cosmetic purpose, or because it may start irritating after some time or may become itchy.

    Seborrheic keratosis is a type of noncancerous skin growth that progresses with age. Mostly, these marks are not contagious and neither are they harmful. At most, these are slightly annoying and may not be aesthetic. These are exactly the reasons why most of the people undergo treatment to get rid of these.

    These keratoses or senile warts vary in shape and size and are usually from tan to dark brown having a waxy or stuck-on-skin appearance. While most of the dermatologists can take a look at it to identify it, in case of any doubt, a skin biopsy may be performed to rule out the possibility of skin cancer.

    In this article we will discuss about seborrheic keratosis, how can it be diagnosed, treated, and much more.

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    Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis

    Following are some of the symptoms of these senile warts that you can look out for:

    • Develop anywhere on the skin except on soles and palms
    • Start off as small and round bumps and transform into warts
    • It can either be flat against the skin or be raised
    • This can be brown, black, yellow, or grey in appearance
    • It can either be the size of a pinpoint or grow up to an inch
    • It is round or oval-shaped
    • It may itch at times

    While the aforementioned symptoms signify harmless keratoses, in case you notice any of the following additional symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

    • Multiple growths developing in a short span of time
    • Bloody sores on your skin that are not healing quickly
    • Irritation and bleeding when the keratose or marking rubs against any cloth or surface

    These may be the signs of something deeper, probably cancerous. It’s better to consult a doctor.

    Seborrheic keratosis may not be harmful, but is important to be cautious and pay attention. Reason being, if you identify the symptoms well and know about it, you will be able to differentiate between this condition and others such as melanoma, which are deadly in nature. Further, knowing the symptoms also ensures that you are aware when there is anything out of the ordinary and can seek immediate medical attention.

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    Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis

    In most of the cases, seborrheic keratosis is genetic and runs in the family. Research and studies have so far been unable to pick any specific cause for the same. The fact that these marks are harmless and can be treated easily if the affected person chooses to do so. Mostly, the causes are genetic.

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    Risk Factors of Seborrheic Keratosis

    There are a few risk factors that may trigger your seborrheic keratosis-causing genes. These are:

    • Exposure to viruses
    • Chronic friction
    • Exposure to sunlight
    • If you are above the age of 50

    However, this is mostly possible when you already carry the genes that may lead to the condition. The risk factors only serve as a trigger.

    Diagnosis of Seborrheic Keratosis

    In most of the cases, dermatologists can merely take a look and assess seborrheic keratosis. They may, additionally, use an instrument known as dermatoscope. However, they may run a few tests if they find something suspicious in your growth. These suspicions may usually happen in one or more of the following situations:

    • Change in appearance of the markings
    • Unusual growth in the keratoses
    • Only one type of growth, given seborrheic keratoses work in various ways
    • The growth being purple, blue, or reddish-black in colour
    • Pain and irritation in the growth
    • Bleeding in the keratoses

    The dermatologist may also order tests in case of cancer suspicions. A skin biopsy is ordered to confirm the diagnosis. There are different types of skin biopsies:

    • Punch biopsy, wherein a punch-hole type device is used to get a tissue sample from the skin
    • Shave biopsy, wherein a lesion is shaved to get a tissue sample
    • Excisional biopsy, which is done using scalpels and sutures

    Further, if any indication of cancer cells are found during the diagnosis, other relevant tests are performed.

    Do make it a point to disclose your medical and genetic history to the doctor. Further, keeping a note on the progress of the wart helps as well.

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    Treatment for Seborrheic Keratosis

    The most common treatment is the removal of the senile warts. This treatment is sought purely for cosmetic purposes or if the doctor recommends it due to some underlying, more serious condition. Here are a few common ways in which the dermatologist removes it:

    • Electrosurgery, in which electric current is passed through the keratoses to scrape off the growth. Of course, the area is first numbed.
    • Cryosurgery is an option wherein liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the growth of the mark.
    • Curettage is a method which uses a surgical instrument that scoops off the growth, in combination with the electrosurgery.
    • Ablation is a technique wherein the growth is vaporised using laser treatment.
    • A chemical peel is another way of treating the growth wherein solutions such as trichloroacetic acid is applied to the growth so that it peels off.

    There are no side effects of the treatment except for usual discolouration for some time, along with slight tenderness and smoothness that comes due to the removal of the keratoses. Mostly, the markings do not regrow on the same part from where those were removed. However, you may get a new one on another part of your body.

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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


    Seborrheic keratosis / / Accessed on 14/08/2020

    Seborrheic keratosis / Accessed on 07/10/2020

    Seborrheic Keratosis / / Accessed on 07/10/2020


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    Written by Nikita Updated 03/09/2021
    Medically reviewed by डॉ. स्नेहल सिंह