This image displays multiple brown, slightly elevated lesions typical of seborrheic keratoses.  Seborrheic keratoses are common, benign skin lesions in adults.  They have a "stuck on" and rough surface appearance. Seborrheic keratoses have a "stuck on" or rough surface appearance, which can be skin-colored or dark.  A waxy, tan-colored, "stuck-on-appearing" lesion is characteristic of a seborrheic keratosis. Seborrheic keratoses are harmless thickenings of the outer layer of skin. This image displays a raised lesion typical of seborrheic keratosis.  A seborrheic keratosis lesion can sometimes become black, as displayed in this image.  This image displays a lesion, with a sharp border and rough surface that appears to be sitting on top of the skin, typical of seborrheic keratosis. Seborrheic keratoses may become very large and lumpy in the scalp area. There are several on this man, which have grown into each other over time. Typical to seborrheic keratoses, this image displays a brown, rough-appearing lesion. The dark to light brown raised, rough areas of seborrheic keratoses may be numerous in the elderly. The dark to light brown raised, rough areas of seborrheic keratoses may be numerous in the elderly. The multiple small, light brown freckles seen here reflect sun damage, but the darker, larger spot on the upper nose bridge is a rough, scaling seborrheic keratosis. Dark brown, rough seborrheic keratoses may be found on any skin area, even inside the ear rim.
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Seborrheic Keratosis  Information for adults

Picture of Seborrheic Keratosis: This image displays multiple brown, slightly elevated lesions typical of seborrheic keratoses.  Divider line
This image displays multiple brown, slightly elevated lesions typical of seborrheic keratoses.
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Overview
Seborrheic keratoses are common benign growths of unknown cause seen in adults due to a thickening of an area of the top skin layer.

Who's At Risk
Although they can occur anytime after puberty, almost everyone over 50 has one or more of these and they increase in number with age. Some families have an inherited tendency to grow multiple lesions. Men and women are equally as likely to develop seborrheic keratoses. Dark-skinned people are less affected than those with light skin; a variant seen in blacks is called dermatosis papulosa nigra.
Signs and Symptoms
One or more spots can occur anywhere on the body, except for palms, soles, and mucous membranes (eg, in the mouth or rectum). They do not go away. They do not turn into cancers, but some cancers resemble seborrheic keratosis.

They start as light brown to skin-colored, flat areas, which are round to oval and of varying size (usually less than a half inch, but sometimes much larger). As they grow thicker and rise above the skin surface, seborrheic keratoses may become dark brown to almost black with a "stuck on" appearance. The surface may feel smooth or rough.
Self-Care Guidelines
No treatment is needed unless there is irritation from clothing with itching or bleeding.
  • There is no way to prevent new spots from forming.
  • Some lotions with alpha hydroxyl acids may make the areas feel smoother with regular use but will not eliminate them.
  • OTC freezing techniques are available but usually not effective.
When to Seek Medical Care
If a spot on the skin is growing, bleeding, painful, or itchy, see your doctor.

Spots can be removed if you don't want them, but removal is considered a cosmetic issue and is usually not covered by insurance.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Removal can be accomplished with freezing (cryosurgery), scraping (curettage), burning (electrocautery), lasers, or with acids. The doctor might conduct a biopsy if the growth looks unusual.



References

Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.1697-1701. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp.767-770. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
Last Updated: 22 Dec 2008