Seborrheic keratoses

Dermatology A to Z


Seborrheic keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses (SK) are common, harmless skin growths that first appear during adult life. As time goes by, more growths appear. Some people have a very large number of them. Seborrheic keratoses appear on both covered and uncovered parts of the body. They are not caused by sunlight. The tendency to develop seborrheic keratoses is inherited.

Seborrheic keratoses are harmless and never become malignant. They begin as slightly raised, light brown spots. Gradually they thicken and take on a rough, warty surface. They slowly darken and may turn black. These color changes are harmless. Seborrheic keratoses are superficial and look as if they were stuck on the skin. Persons who have had several seborrheic keratoses can usually recognize this type of benign growth. However, if you are concerned or unsure about any growth, please make an appointment to have the lesion examined by a dermatologist.


Seborrheic keratoses can easily be removed in the office. The only reason for removing a seborrheic keratosis is if it itches or becomes inflamed or irritated by rubbing against your clothes. These lesions can be treated with liquid nitrogen, shave excised with a scalpel or scraped (curetted) off. The exact treatment will depend on location, size, thickness, appearance, clinical history and patient and physician preference. If a treated lesion does not respond (go away), recurs (comes back) or grows, please make a return appointment for re-evaluation/treatment. Treating seborrheic keratoses because they are unsightly is considered cosmetic. This means treatment will not be covered by most, if not all, insurances. We will treat these if desired, though payment is expected at the time of service.