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Seborrheic Keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses are common noncancerous (benign) skin growths that men and women develop as they age. They may appear as one growth or as a cluster of growths, most often on the chest or back and occasionally on the scalp, face, or neck.

Seborrheic keratoses are usually brown, but the color can vary from pale white to brown to black. The size varies from very small to the size of a medium coin. These growths often look as though they have been pasted on.

The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. But they seem to run in families and to be related to sun exposure. They primarily affect men and women who are older than 30, and they are increasingly common later in life.

In general, seborrheic keratoses do not need treatment unless their appearance causes embarrassment or they become irritated by clothing. A doctor can remove these growths by freezing, burning, or scraping them off the skin. They may also be removed using a laser.

All skin growths, especially those that appear suddenly, grow quickly, develop symptoms like itching or bleeding, or change in shape or color, should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out cancer.

Last Revised: January 22, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology

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