Seborrheic keratoses tend to do the following:
- Start as small, rough bumps, then slowly thicken and develop a warty surface
- Have a waxy, stuck-on-the-skin look
- Be brown, though they range in color from white to black
- Range in size from a fraction of an inch to larger than a half-dollar
- Form on the chest, back, stomach, scalp, face, neck, or other parts of the body (but not on the palms and soles)
- Cause no pain — some itch
In most people, seborrheic keratoses first appear in middle age or later. People who are most likely to get these growths have family members with seborrheic keratoses. Sometimes the growths appear during pregnancy or after estrogen replacement therapy. Children rarely have these growths.
The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. We do know the following:
- Seborrheic keratoses seem to run in families. Some people seem to inherit a tendency to get many of these growths.
- Some studies suggest that sun exposure may play a role. But we know that these growths appear on skin that gets sun and skin that is always covered. So more research is needed.
- Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious. These growths may seem to multiply and spread to other parts of the body. The truth is, this does not happen.
Because seborrheic keratoses are harmless, they most often do not need treatment. A dermatologist may remove a seborrheic keratosis when it is:
- Hard to distinguish from skin cancer.
- Large or gets easily irritated when clothes or jewelry rubs against it.
- Unsightly to a patient.
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