Seborrheic Keratosis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Seborrheic keratosis is a noncancerous skin growth. It can cause cosmetic problems but are not harmful to your body. In some cases, it is difficult to differentiate seborrheic keratosis from a serious skin cancer called melanoma. It has the following other names;

  • Basal cell papilloma

  • Senile wart

  • Brown wart

  • Wisdom wart

  • Barnacle   

In the beginning, it may start as a single lesion. But by time, it may grow in numbers. They can occur anywhere except the soles of feet and palms. Mostly it appears on;

  • scalp

  • shoulders

  • chest

  • back

  • abdomen

  • face

Seborrheic keratosis growth starts in small and rough areas. They have a slightly raised surface with a waxy look in appearance. In color, they are usually brown. But they can be yellow, white or black. 

They are not contagious- which means they do not spread from one person to another upon touch. Usually, they do not need treatment. But you can get them removed if they get irritated from clothes and fabrics and cause cosmetic issues. 


Seborrheic keratosis has a wax-like appearance and ranges from one to multiple in numbers. It has the following characteristics;

  • Varies in color from light tan to brown or black

  • The shape of the lesion is round or oval-shaped.

  • The lesion has a characteristic "pasted on" look.

  • The lesion is either flat or slightly raised.

  • Have a scaly surface and waxy appearance.

  • Ranges in size from very small to more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) across.

  • May itch

Risk factors 

Risk factors for seborrheic keratosis are;

Older age

Old-age people are at more risk of developing seborrheic keratosis. It can occur in middle-aged people and the risk increases by age. 

Family history 

Seborrheic keratosis often runs in families. Therefore having a family history increases the risk of having it. Moreover, the risk increases with the increased number of relatives having it. 

Sun exposure

Getting frequent sun exposure can increase the risk of seborrheic keratosis. 


There is no such treatment for seborrheic keratosis. But it can be removed. For removal, the following techniques may be used;

  • Cryosurgery

  • Electrosurgery 

  • Curettage


Seborrheic keratosis is a non-cancnerous skin growth. They can cause cosmetic problems but are not harmful to your body. It does not need any treatment. But for cosmetic purposes, it can be removed.

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