A dark spot on your skin can be concerning medically and annoying cosmetically. In some cases, however, it may not be a mole or skin cancer at all. It could be a seborrheic keratosis — and easily treated.
Here at the offices of the Ventura Institute for Dermatologic Arts in Ventura and Camarillo, California, Dr. Peter Karlsberg uses a combination of art and science in his innovative treatment of all your cosmetic dermatological needs. Whether you’re seeking facial rejuvenation with an injectable, dermal filler or laser or clearer skin by removing a seborrheic keratosis, we can help.
While a seborrheic keratosis may look like a wart, mole, or skin cancer, it is none of the above. It is simply a harmless skin growth. While some people may have just one, more often, individuals have several.
A seborrheic keratosis is typically round or oval in shape with a size ranging anywhere from tiny to larger than an inch in diameter. It is usually brown but can also be black, white, or yellow. When it first begins to form, it may be a small rough patch. Eventually it can become thicker with a surface more like a wart. In some cases, it may be waxy or look like it’s stuck on the skin. It also may itch.
Seborrheic keratoses become more common with age. A third of people have one or more by the time they are 40 years old while three-quarters of individuals have them by age 70. They can be found anywhere on the body except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but are particularly common on the head, face, chest, shoulders, back, and abdomen.
Experts aren’t certain what causes seborrheic keratoses but they have identified some suspected risk factors. Growing older is likely one contributing reason. Genetics may also play a role since they tend to run in families. Sunlight and skin friction could also be factors.
Diagnosis and treatment
While seborrheic keratoses are harmless, it can be difficult to determine them from different types of skin cancer including melanoma. If you have a new growth or have observed a change in an existing growth, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.
In many cases a dermatologist can tell it’s a seborrheic keratosis just by looking at it. However, if there is any uncertainty, it can be removed and sent for a skin biopsy just to be safe.
Often a seborrheic keratosis doesn’t need any treatment, though depending on the location, you might want it removed for cosmetic reasons.