Seborrhoeic Keratosis

A harmless, pigmented wart-like growth that most commonly occurs on the trunk

  • More common with increasing age
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

Seborrhoeic keratoses, also called seborrhoeic warts, are harmless skin growths, usually brown or black in colour. The growths occur on the trunk but may also affect the head, neck, and, less commonly, the backs of the hands and the forearms. They may appear singly or in groups. Seborrhoeic keratoses are common in elderly people.

What are the symptoms?

You may notice a seborrhoeic keratosis as a crusted patch that appears to be stuck on rather than in the skin. The growth is usually:

  • Painless but occasionally itchy. You may find that scratching the growth causes soreness.

  • Up to 2 cm ( 3 / 4 in) in diameter.

  • Greasy and rough on the surface.

  • Brown or black in colour.

  • Either raised or flat.

In rare cases, an individual may have hundreds of seborrhoeic keratoses.

What might be done?

If you have a pigmented patch, consult your doctor to check that it is not due to a serious condition. If it is a seborrhoeic keratosis, it may be removed by scraping or cutting it off or by freezing it. The lesion is unlikely to recur, but in a person who is susceptible to seborrhoeic keratoses, new lesions may develop on other areas of the body.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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