Seborrheic Keratosis (SK)

Medical Dermatology

Seborrheic Keratosis (SK) is a very common benign growth often call the “barnacles of aging” they usually occur in middle aged individuals or older. These growths range in color but most are tan or dark brown to black. They are usually rough and scaly and can look like warts but they are harmless.

SKs are not contagious and patients can develop a single SK however most people develop several and continue to develop more of these growths as they age. SKs can develop anywhere on the body except the palms of hands and the soles of feet.

Treatment and Removal

There is no treatment necessary for SKs however if they become irritated, get caught on jewelry or clothing or if they are just unsightly to patients these lesions can be removed.  

Treatment / removal of SKs are done by Cryosurgery: The dermatologist freezes the SK with liquid nitrogen. This destroys the growth and causes it to fall off within days. Another treatment option is electrodessication and curettage that involves numbing the growth with local anesthetic and using an electric current to destroy the growth followed by scraping off the treated growth with an instrument called a curette. After the SKs are removed there is a small risk of hypopigmentation (lighter skin) or hyperpigmentation (darker skin) at the treatment site. This usually fades over time but can occasionally be permanent. You may develop new SK as you age however the lesions that are removed usually don’t recur.