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Seborrheic Keratoses

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The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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What are seborrheic keratoses?

Seborrheic keratoses are tan, beige, brown, or black growths on the skin that can look like big warts.

  • Seborrheic keratoses are harmless growths that are common among middle-aged and older people

  • They aren't cancerous and don’t become cancerous

  • Sometimes they itch a little, but they don't hurt

  • If they bother you, the doctor can remove them by freezing or using an electric needle

Some people get many growths.

What causes seborrheic keratoses?

Doctors don’t know what causes seborrheic keratoses, but they run in families.

What do seborrheic keratoses look like?

Seborrheic keratoses:

  • Are round or oval-shaped

  • Are tan, beige, brown, or black

  • Look like they’re stuck on the skin

  • Usually feel waxy, scaly, or wart-like

  • Show up anywhere on the body, but most often on the temples, chest, back, and belly

Darker-skinned people sometimes get a large number of growths on their cheeks, along the cheekbone.

Dark brown seborrheic keratoses may be mistaken for moles or a skin cancer called melanoma.

How do doctors treat seborrheic keratoses?

Seborrheic keratoses don’t need treatment.

If they get irritated, itchy, or you don’t like how they look, doctors can remove them:

  • By freezing them with liquid nitrogen

  • Using an electric needle

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