Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis are common, benign, raised typically skin-colored to brown or black growths on the skin. There can be anywhere from one to many on an individual. They have a characteristic waxy, stuck-on appearance.

They may be unsightly, especially if they begin to appear on the face. They are not contagious or cancerous and do not spread. Although they can appear similar to moles at times, they do not turn into melanoma. There is a genetic component to these, and some people grow more than others, particularly with age. They may erupt during pregnancy, after hormone replacement therapy, or as a result of other medical problems. These are most commonly found on the trunk and on the face near the hairline.

They can be irritated by clothing and jewelry. No treatment is necessary. However, treatment options start with alpha-hydroxy lotions and mild steroid creams to help with itching and irritation. They should be treated with liquid nitrogen or removed by biopsy if they become very itchy, irritated or bleed easy. Liquid nitrogen causes redness and blistering then scab formation afterward, followed by disappearance of all or some of the lesion. The area will then have a lighter or darker colored spot or a scar that will fade over time. The lesion may not be removed in its entirety and could eventually return.

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