SEBORRHEIC KERATOSIS (Senile Keratosis)
This patient information and photograph on Seborrheic Keratosis (Senile Keratosis) is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? A seborrheic keratosis is one of the most common growths that occur on the skin. In general terms these are often referred to as "barnacles of time or age spots" I prefer to call them "wisdom spots". Seborrheic keratoses are most frequently seen in adults over thirty, and they can occur almost anywhere on the skin. Looking a lot like waxy lumps they are typically brown or black in color, and appear like they have been stuck on the skin. When they are very flat they can look like large "liver spots."
What causes it? The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. Heredity does seem to play a role.
Is it dangerous? They are harmless, but they can be difficult to tell from skin cancer by lay persons. Any growth that bleeds, itches on a regular basis becomes inflamed or irritated needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist. Seborrheic keratoses are not related to skin cancer and they don't become cancerous. Although I remove many of them for cosmetic reasons, removal is not necessary unless they are irritated, inflamed or suspicious.
Can it be cured? Seborrheic keratoses are easily removed, but insurance considers this cosmetic unless they are inflamed, irritated or clinically suspicious. Some Seborrheic keratoses may re-grow after removal, but most do not. I have several techniques that I use to remove these growths. I try to choose a technique that gives the best cosmetic result for each growth depending on its size and location. Click here for information on cosmetic removals.
Will it spread? New ones usually continue to appear throughout life.
Is it contagious? Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious and you can not "catch" them from anyone.