Seborrheic keratosis is skin growth which appears similar to a mole or a wart. It is considered a common skin growth mostly occurring in older people over the age of 40 or 50 years. Seborrheic keratosis can occur anywhere on the body except the skin of palm and sole. Most often the lesions develop on head and neck region or on back and chest.
The skin growths are slightly elevated, feel rough or like a candle wax. The color may range from brown to black. Although seborrheic keratosis lesions appear as precancerous or cancerous skin lesions they are completely harmless.People seek treatment for their unsightly appearance.
The exact cause of seborrheic keratosis remains eluded. It is present mostly in people with fair skin and people having family history of seborrheic keratosis. Besides familial origin, exposure to sun is also a leading factor for development of these harmless skin lesions.
Treatment is aimed at removing the lesions. Electrocautery, cryosurgery and laser are effective treatment modes. Several home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, cold compresses, etc can be used to remove the lesion. Once removed the lesions usually do not develop again at the same site.But there is possibility that seborrheic keratosis may develop in other areas of body.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Seborrheic Keratosis
The exact etiology of seborrheic keratosis is not known. The harmless growth is formed by excess accumulation of normal skin cells. Seborrheic keratosis usually develops in middle age and older age, although sometimes the lesions can also develop in young people. Men and women are equally affected. It is more seen in people with fair skin and among people having similar skin growth in the family.
Seborrheic keratosis does not occur in children. It is not an infectious condition. The three most common risk factors for seborrheic keratosis are:
- Family history of seborrheic keratosis. The skin condition is known to run in families. The risk tends to increase when one or more than one member of family has this unsightly but harmless skin lesion.
- Exposure to sun for prolonged period of time is also suspected to cause this harmless growth. However, some researchers do not agree with this theory because the lesions are also present on certain unexposed areas of body.
- They also arise during pregnancy indicating a hormonal role.
Signs And Symptoms Of Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis can develop in any part of skin, but usually the lesions develop on face, neck and head region or on chest and back. The lesions never develop in palm and sole. The lesions are slightly elevated from the normal skin surface. They appear rough to touch or may have waxy feel. In most cases the waxy feel is the distinguishing feature. Often the lesion appears as if warm candle wax is pasted on skin surface.
In the beginning it appears as a bump. As it grows, the skin becomes thick and dark. The color of seborrheic keratosis can range from golden brown to dark black. There can be single lesion of seborrheic keratosis, or may develop as clusters. Slowly with growing age the lesions increases and spread easily to the nearby area of skin. The diameter can range from few mm to even few inches. The lesions are round or oval in shape. Sometimes there may be itching.
Treatment Options For Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis is harmless skin growth and does not need any treatment. Most people take treatment because of its unsightly appearance particularly when it develops on face and neck or on other exposed areas of skin. People also seek treatment when seborrheic keratosis is present in large number.
Treatment may also be necessary if the lesion is suspected to be skin cancer or the raised lesion may frequently get irritated when present in certain areas of body where there is friction with clothes. Treatment consists of removing the lesion. It can be done with laser therapy, cryosurgery, dermabrasion or electrocautery.
Certain home remedies like apple cider vinegar is also worth trying as its application over a period of time can diminish appearance of seborrheic keratosis. Besides patient must reduce exposure to sunlight, wear long brimmed hat while going out in sun or apply sun screen lotion before going out in sun. It helps to prevent development of new lesions.