Medical Dermatology

Seborrheic Keratosis

Diagnosis and Treatment for Wart-Like, Non-Cancerous Skin Growths in the Dallas Area

Old WomenA seborrheic keratosis (SK) or several seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are benign (non-cancerous), extremely common growths that can occur almost anywhere on the skin. Some people just get one, while 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. Some are larger than a half-dollar. A seborrheic keratosis can be flat or raised. Sometimes the surface of a seborrheic keratosis feels smooth. No matter the specifics, Dr. Ellen Turner can provide treatment for seborrheic keratoses in the Dallas area.

What often distinguishes these growths from other lesions is a waxy, pasted-on-the-skin appearance. A seborrheic keratosis 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-surface appearance. To ensure an accurate diagnosis of any suspicious skin lesion, it is important to consult a licensed dermatologist for an evaluation.

Medical Dermatology

Want to learn more about treatments for seborrheic keratosis at our Dallas or Irving locations? Fill out a contact form or call (214) 373-7546 to schedule an appointment.

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What Causes Seborrheic Keratosis?

A seborrheic keratosis is considered by some to be a sign of skin aging. The cause of this condition is still not fully understood, but seborrheic keratoses are not viral or bacterial, do not spread, and are not contagious. Occasionally, SKs erupt during pregnancy or following estrogen therapy. Children rarely have SKs. Genetics may also play a role in the tendency to develop numerous seborrheic keratoses.

The classic type of seborrheic keratosis is seen more frequently on fairer skinned people.

What Are the Symptoms of a Seborrheic Keratosis?

A seborrheic keratosis looks similar to a common mole and has a round or oval shape. Typically, a seborrheic keratosis will begin as a small, rough area which then gets a thicker, wart-like, and waxy appearance. It may also have a slightly raised surface. The fibrous protein the lesion contains, called keratin, is what gives it a scabby and wart-like appearance.

The growths develop from clusters of skin cells called keratinocytes that form on the surface of the skin. Usually, a seborrheic keratosis will be brown, but some are tan, pink, yellow, white, or black. A seborrheic keratosis tends to appear to stick on the surface of the skin.

While anyone may develop SKs, these growths generally first appear in middle age or later in life and occur more frequently as you get older. A seborrheic keratosis will sometimes be mistaken for a pre-cancerous growth, and they may look similar to melanoma, a type of skin cancer. They are also referred to as epidermal tumors.

Although they may look like pre-cancerous growths, they are not pre-cancerous, are harmless, and do not increase the risk of skin cancer. Most often forming on the chest and back, SKs also can be found on the scalp, face, neck, shoulders, or almost anywhere on the skin. They do not develop on the palms or soles. In most cases, a seborrheic keratosis won’t cause any symptoms, but it may sometimes cause itching, irritation from friction, and bleeding. It can also catch on clothing. A seborrheic keratosis may also simply be unsightly to the patient, which can prompt a decision to have it removed.

Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment in the Dallas area

It’s possible for a dermatologist to diagnosis a seborrheic keratosis just by looking at the skin. Dr. Ellen Turner can diagnose this condition by examining the skin or sometimes removing a growth from the skin so that it can be examined under a microscope. Since seborrheic keratoses are benign, treatment is generally not necessary. A seborrheic keratosis usually won’t go away on its own, so if you’re bothered by the way it looks or feels you can choose to have it removed. A seborrheic keratosis may grow quickly, turn black, itch, or bleed, making it difficult to distinguish from skin cancer.

For these types of lesions, a biopsy (removal of the seborrheic keratosis growth for study under a microscope) may be recommended to determine if the growth is cancerous or benign (non-cancerous). It’s important to have any unusual skin growths diagnosed to ensure that they aren’t skin cancer.

Dermatology Office

Meet Dr. Ellen Turner

Dr. Ellen Turner and her staff at the Dermatology Office strive to work within a space where compassion meets technology to obtain top results for Dallas patients.

Meet Dr. Ellen Turner
Dr. Ellen Turner

It’s important to not try to remove a seborrheic keratosis on your own since there is a risk of infection if you do. Treatment may be recommended if the growth is large, bothersome, and/or easily irritated by clothing or jewelry. Sometimes, a seborrheic keratosis is treated because the patient considers it unattractive. 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 then 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.

Patients can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment method with Dr. Turner to find out which method is best for them. Although a seborrheic keratosis that has been removed won’t grow back, another seborrheic keratosis can develop elsewhere on the body after it has been treated on one area.

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 extent of treatment recommended by Dr. Turner.

Medical Dermatology

Book an appointment online or call (214) 373-7546 to schedule an appointment to see us for seborrheic keratosis at our Dallas or Irving locations.

Book an AppointmentCall (214) 373-7546

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