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Seborrheic Keratosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 5, 2023.

What is seborrheic keratosis (SK)?

SK is a lesion that is commonly found on skin. The lesions are benign (not cancer). Lesions are usually seen on the scalp, face, neck, and trunk. You may have lesions anywhere hair can grow on your body. There are usually many lesions. Some people have dozens of them. As you get older, they may become thicker, more elevated, and increased in number.

What are the types of SK lesions?

The following are some common SK lesions:

  • Common seborrheic keratoses are usually on the face, neck, and trunk. They can look like warts. They can feel like velvet or wax. The lesions look like they have been stuck on your skin. Do not try to peel or scratch them off.
  • Dermatosis papulosa nigra are small, black, raised pimples. They appear on your face, neck, chest, and upper back. These lesions are most common in people with darker skin. They are more common in women, and there is usually a family history of these lesions.
  • Stucco keratoses are small gray lesions. They look rough and like warts. These lesions are usually found on the legs or forearms. There are usually a lot of these lesions. They are more common in men.
  • Flat seborrheic keratoses are oval, brown patches on the face, chest, or arms. These lesions increase in number as you get older.
  • Pedunculated seborrheic keratoses are darker lesions that look like they have a stem. These appear on the neck or armpit.

How is SK diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will look at your lesions. He or she may be able to diagnose the lesion by its appearance. Your healthcare provider may look at your lesions through a medical lens called a dermatoscope. You may need a biopsy of one or more lesions. The tissue from the biopsy will be sent to the lab for tests.

How is SK treated?

Treatment is not usually needed. A lesion can be removed if it is inflamed or has changed in appearance. It may also be removed for any reason. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want a lesion removed. Cryotherapy and shave removal are the most common removal methods.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What else do I need to know about SK?

The lesions can become irritated. Irritation can be caused by clothes rubbing against the lesions. It can also be caused by chafing of the area the lesions are in. The lesions or the skin around the lesions can become red and itchy. The lesions can also ooze drainage.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your lesions change shape or size.
  • Your lesions become red, itchy, and have drainage.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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