Seborrheic Keratosis (SK)

What is Seborrheic Keratosis (SK)?

Seborrheic Keratosis (SK) is a common, non-cancerous skin growth that occurs when cells in the outer layer of skin become abnormally thick. They are not contagious and tend to show up in middle age. Actually, due to its appearance, SK sometimes is mistaken as a wart, mole, or a skin cancer. The good news is that SK does not become cancerous. The growths of the SK may be itchy, but they are usually painless.

Causes of Seborrheic Keratosis

The exact cause of Seborrheic Keratosis is generally unknown. It is commonly believed, however, that hormonal and genetic factors can affect the growth of these growths. Some researchers have suggested that certain types of fungi may be a factor as well.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis

SK typically presents itself in the form of small, dark colored, raised patches of skin, which may appear waxy. Some individuals can have hundreds of these growths. SK can range in size from a few millimeters in diameter to several centimeters. It typically has a slightly scaly appearance and may be lighter or darker than your natural skin color. It is possible for them to whiten or darken over time and they may itch.

Treatments for Seborrheic Keratosis

Most Seborrheic Keratosis do not require treatment since they pose no real health threat. However, if you are self-conscious about their appearance, there are several methods of SK treatments available. Some options include:

  • Cryosurgery: Also known as "freezing," cryosurgery is a common treatment method for SK. It involves applying liquid nitrogen to the growth, which causes it to freeze and then fall off after a few weeks. It is important to note that some scarring may occur.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser therapy is the newest treatment alternative and is done through the use of an intense beam of light. This form of treatment is more precise and may offer a less scarring result.
  • Curettage: Also known as "scraping," this method involves scraping off the SK with a special tool called a curette. The area will then be treated with a chemical in order to prevent infection. As with the other two methods, Curettage may also result in scarring.