While the name may seem exotic, the condition known as seborrheic keratosis is actually a common side effect of aging and is very much benign. It occurs on both covered and uncovered parts of the body and one individual can develop many of these growths as they age. They are most common among the elderly and as a result are also known as barnacles of aging. While these spots may be unsightly, there is no cause for concern.
Specifically the term is used to describe a brown, black or pale growth on the face, chest, shoulders or back. They tend to look waxy or scaly and can appear to have been stuck onto your skin. They typically begin as slightly raised, light brown spots. Gradually they thicken and take on a rough, wartlike surface. They slowly darken and may turn black, but these color changes are harmless. The growths range in size from a few centimeters to an inch and are generally painless. They may look like a skin cancer are but are entirely benign.
Are there any specific causes of seborrheic keratosis?
The exact cause of seborrheic keratosis is not known, but there is an obvious connection to aging and there is also thought to be a genetic tendency toward them in some families. If you have a family member with SK, then you are more likely to develop them yourself. Although anyone can develop them, they are more likely to occur in individuals over the age of 50.
Can I treat them myself?
There is really no need to treat seborrheic keratoses. The only reason you might decide to treat them is because they are ugly or they are getting caught on your clothing.
There are several safe and effective methods for removal of seborrheic keratosis including freezing, scraping, burning and vaporizing. In most cases, cryotherapy, or freezing, is the best method for removal; however all of these methods can result in scarring and discoloration of the skin if not performed properly so you should always have your SK treated by a trained dermatologist.
There are also some self help measures you can try including the use of an over the counter wart remover. Most wart removers work similarly to cryotherapy by applying a freezing solution to the growth until it falls off. Because over the counter medications will be in a much lower dose than those your doctor would use, using a wart remover could take a lot longer than a professional treatment.
Aside from wart removers, you can also opt to wait for the growth to go away on its own, which frequently does happen spontaneously. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take several years and many people aren’t willing to wait that long for results.
If the growth becomes irritated you can ease symptoms by applying cool compresses. The one thing you should never do is scratch or pick at a seborrheic keratosis as that can cause infection. Many skin conditions, including seborrheic keratosis, are also believed to be connected to a Vitamin D deficiency, so taking a Vitamin D supplement can help to balance out your skin and prevent the formation of new growths.