Seborrheic Keratosis Description, Diagnosis and Treatment
What is a seborrheic keratosis?
A seborrheic keratosis (SK) or several seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are benign (non-cancerous) growths that can occur almost anywhere on the skin. Some people just get one; others develop many. Having many SKs is more common. Usually beginning as small, rough bumps, SKs tend to eventually thicken and develop a warty surface. Most are brown, but these growths range in color from light tan to black. Some SKs measure a fraction of an inch; others are larger than a half-dollar. A seborrheic keratosis can be flat or raised. Sometimes the surface feels smooth.
What often distinguishes these growths from other lesions is a waxy, pasted-on-the-skin appearance. An SK can look like a dab of warm, brown candle wax on the skin. It also may resemble a barnacle attached to a ship. Either way, SKs tend to have that stuck-on-the-skin appearance. To ensure an accurate diagnosis of any suspicious skin lesion, it is important to consult a licensed dermatologist, such as Dr. Ellen Turner, for an evaluation.
While anyone may develop SKs, these growths generally first appear in middle age or later. Occasionally, SKs erupt during pregnancy or following estrogen therapy. Children rarely have SKs. Most often forming on the chest and back, SKs also can be found on the scalp, face, neck, or almost anywhere on the skin. They do not develop on the palms or soles.
Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment in the Dallas area
Since seborrheic keratoses are benign, treatment is generally not necessary. Sometimes an SK grows quickly, turns black, itches or bleeds, making it difficult to distinguish from skin cancer. For these types of lesions, a biopsy (removal of the growth for study under a microscope) may be recommended to determine if the growth is cancerous or benign (non-cancerous).
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Treatment may be recommended if the growth is large, bothersome and/or easily irritated by clothing or jewelry. Sometimes, an SK is treated because the patient considers it unsightly. In these last two cases, there are a few treatment options:
- Cryosurgery: liquid nitrogen, a very cold liquid, is applied to the growth with a cotton swab or spray gun. This freezes the growth. The seborrheic keratosis tends to fall off within days. Sometimes a blister forms under the SK and dries into a scab-like crust. The crust will fall off.
- Electrosurgery and curettage: Electrosurgery (electrocautery) involves numbing the growth with an anesthetic and using an electric current to cauterize (burn) the growth. A scoop-shaped surgical instrument, a curette, is used to scrape off the treated growth. This is the curettage. The patient does not need stitches. There may be a small amount of bleeding. Sometimes the patient needs only electrosurgery or just curettage.
Make an appointment online or call the office to set up a visit with Dr. Turner and her staff at (214) 373-7546. You can expect result-driven patient care, built on a foundation of open conversation and a dermatology team who listens. Bring your questions about seborrheic keratoses.
How much does seborrheic keratosis treatment cost?
The cost will vary based on the type and extent of treatment recommended by Dr. Turner.