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Seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are benign (non-cancerous) growths that usually form in middle age on skin that has been exposed to sun as well as skin that has not. They are harmless, but may cause discomfort if rubbed by clothing. Typically dark brown, SKs can range in size and texture but they tend to have the appearance of something stuck on the skin.
Most SKs form on the chest and back. SKs also appear on the scalp, face, neck, and almost anywhere on the skin. They cannot form on the palms or soles.
To the untrained eye, SK growths can resemble moles, warts, actinic keratoses, or even melanoma, a serious skin cancer. At times, a questionable SK might be removed and biopsied (examined under a microscope) to determine if it is cancerous or not.
Most SKs do not need treatment, but if they become irritated, inflamed, turn black, or bloody due to trauma it may be medically necessary to remove them. They may also be removed for cosmetic reasons, but insurance will not cover this.
During your appointment, your dermatologist will examine the growth and if it’s suspected to be more than an SK, a biopsy will be performed and the removed growth will be sent to a lab for further diagnosis.
If you suddenly develop numerous SKs, you also should see a dermatologist. This can be a sign of a serious health problem.
- American Academy of Dermatology
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