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Seborrheic keratoses (SK) is a common skin growth that may look worrisome, but is actually harmless. Most begin as small, rough bumps on the skin, but can be smooth and flat. They tend to have a waxy, “stuck-on-the-skin” appearance, like a dab of wax. These typically occur at later ages and are often called “barnacles of aging.” Most people who get them develop several. They’re mostly tan or brown, but can be white and black too.
SKs may resemble other common skin growths, including warts, actinic keratoses (AKs), moles and melanoma. Although SKs are harmless, they can be mistaken for more serious or dangerous growths (like melanoma), so it’s still important to see a board-certified dermatologist to properly identify.
SKs can form anywhere on the skin, except the hands and soles of the feet. Most appear on the chest, back, scalp, face and neck. Anyone can get SKs, but they usually appear on those that are middle aged or older. Children rarely develop SKs. SKs are common with people that are fair skin, but those with darker skin tones can also develop them.
The exact cause of SKs is still not clear. The number of growths a person has usually increases with age. This may appear that the growths are spreading, however SKs are not contagious. Genetics can play a part in your chances of developing SKs. They can also appear in women when estrogen levels quickly increase or decrease, like during pregnancy.
Most cases don’t require treatment, however it’s still important to see a board-certified dermatologist to confirm diagnosis. This is especially important if:
Don’t try to remove seborrheic keratoses yourself. You could risk infection.