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Understanding Seborrheic Keratosis

Understanding Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis (also known as age spots) is a common non-cancerous skin growth that often appears as brown, black, or tan growths on the skin. These growths can vary in size, color, and texture. People commonly find them on body parts with sun exposed areas, such as the face, chest, shoulders, hands, and back.

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Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis

Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis (SK) is a benign skin condition characterized by the formation of non-cancerous skin growths on the outer layer of the skin. We do not fully know the exact cause of seborrheic keratosis, but we believe that several factors play a role.

  • Age: Seborrheic keratosis is more commonly seen in older adults, with the prevalence increasing with age. Experts speculate that cumulative exposure to environmental factors over time may play a role in its development.

  • Genetics: There appears to be a genetic predisposition to seborrheic keratosis, as it often runs in families. Certain gene mutations or variations may influence an individual's susceptibility to developing these skin growths.

  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a significant risk factor for developing seborrheic keratosis. Sun exposure can harm the skin over time, and the sun damage causes changes in skin cells that can lead to growths on the skin.

  • Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy or menopause, can trigger or worsen seborrheic keratosis. Changes in hormone levels can affect how skin cells grow, leading to the development of these skin issues.

  • Friction and rubbing can cause seborrheic keratosis on skin areas like underarms, neck, or groin. These lesions are more likely to develop in these areas due to frequent friction of the skin's top layer. This mechanical irritation can stimulate the proliferation of skin cells, leading to the formation of these growths.

  • Inflammatory Skin Conditions: Chronic inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, may increase the risk of developing seborrheic keratosis. Inflammation in the skin can disrupt normal cellular processes and contribute to abnormal growth patterns.

  • Certain viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), play a role in the development of seborrheic keratosis lesions. However, the exact relationship between viral infections and SK remains unclear and requires further research.


Overall, seborrheic keratosis is likely the result of a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and cellular changes in the skin over time. Skin growths are usually harmless. Knowing the causes of these growths can help people take care of their skin better. It can also reduce the chance of getting more growths.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis

Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis typically presents as raised, wart-like growths on the skin. These growths may vary in color from light tan to dark brown or black and often have a waxy, scaly, or rough texture. Key symptoms include:

  • Raised, well-defined growths on the skin

  • Varied colors, ranging from tan to dark brown or black

  • Rough or waxy texture

  • Can resemble warts or melanoma in appearance

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Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis

Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis

Important to correctly diagnose seborrheic keratosis to distinguish it from other skin problems like precancerous skin growths, melanoma and cancers. Here's how healthcare professionals typically diagnose seborrheic keratosis:

  • Clinical Examination:

Healthcare providers typically diagnose seborrheic keratosis based on the appearance of the skin growths. A thorough clinical examination may involve inspecting the size, color, texture, and location of the growths.

  • Dermoscopy:

Dermoscopy, also known as skin surface microscopy, can help examine the skin lesions in more detail. This method helps doctors check skin growths and tell the difference between seborrheic keratosis and other skin problems.

  • Biopsy:

In some cases, a doctor may perform a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of seborrheic keratosis. During a punch biopsy, a small piece of skin is removed. The skin is then examined under a microscope. This is done to check for signs of seborrheic keratosis.

  • Differential Diagnosis:


It's important to distinguish seborrheic keratosis from other skin conditions, including:

  • Actinic Keratosis: Precancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure.

  • Melanoma: A type of skin cancer that can resemble seborrheic keratosis in appearance.

  • Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra: Small, benign skin growths that commonly affect people with darker skin tones.

Treatment Options for Seborrheic Keratosis

Treatment Options for Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is usually harmless and may not need treatment unless it bothers you or affects your appearance. There are treatments available for those who want to remove the growths. Treatment options may include:

  • Laser Therapy:

Laser therapy uses focused laser light to target and destroy the pigmented cells within seborrheic keratosis lesions. This method is particularly useful for treating multiple or widespread growths.

  • Topical Treatments:

Some treatments like retinoids or chemical peels can help lessen seborrheic keratosis spots over time. These treatments work by promoting the exfoliation of the skin and reducing the thickness of the growths.

  • Excisional Surgery:

Sometimes, surgery is needed to remove seborrheic keratosis growths that are big or bothersome. This removes the lesions completely. This procedure involves cutting out the growth under local anesthesia.

Home Remedies and Self-Care Tips

Home Remedies and Self-Care Tips

Medical treatment is necessary to remove seborrheic keratosis growths. Home remedies and self-care can also be used to manage the condition and prevent further growths.

  • Sun Protection:

Sun exposure increases the risk of seborrheic keratosis, so it's important to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. Wear broad spectrum sunscreen daily, seek shade when outdoors, and wear protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves.

  • Moisturize Regularly:

Moisturizing the skin can make seborrheic keratosis lesions look better and reduce itchiness or discomfort from dry skin.

  • Avoid Irritation:

Avoid picking or scratching at seborrheic keratosis growths, as this can cause inflammation or infection. You should gently cleanse with mild soap and water, then gently pat dry with a soft towel.

  • Regular Skin Checks:

Check your skin regularly for any changes in seborrheic keratosis lesions or new growths. It's important to monitor your skin's appearance. If you notice any concerning changes, consult with a healthcare provider promptly.

Seborrheic keratosis is a prevalent harmless skin disorder that mainly impacts elderly individuals. While these growths are typically harmless, they can cause cosmetic concerns or discomfort for some individuals. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to remove seborrheic keratosis lesions safely and effectively.

If you have a skin condition, it's important to talk to a doctor before deciding on treatment. You can choose medical treatments like laser therapy or try self-care tips at home. It's best to get professional advice.

Discover what causes seborrheic keratosis, its symptoms, and how to treat it to maintain healthy and radiant skin. Understanding the causes of seborrheic keratosis can help you effectively manage the condition.

Recognizing the symptoms of seborrheic keratosis is important for timely treatment. Explore various treatment options to keep your skin healthy and glowing in the long run.

Don't forget to protect your skin from the sun. Make sure to check it regularly. Take care of your skin to prevent new growths and keep it healthy.


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