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Seborrheic Keratosis - Causes and Treatment

Seborrheic keratosis is a small lump or nodule that usually appears in 'groups' in certain areas of the body.

Have you ever seen other people or close relatives have a collection of dark or light brown lumps or nodules like birthmarks on the face or neck area? Usually, these lumps have different sizes and colors. Some are big, some are small. Some are dark brown, some are light brown. This case is called Seborrheic Keratosis.

What's Seborrheic Keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is the growth of benign skin lesions or non-cancerous tumors that usually seen in adults or elderly patients. Even though the growths are harmless and do not require treatment, this condition can be a disturbance to the appearance. Seborrheic keratosis generally appears in groups, or occurs in more than one lump. The growth will look like a wax with a slight bulge. Furthermore, this condition shows gradually, which is basically spread over the face, neck, chest or back.

Seborrheic Keratosis Symptoms

Since seborrheic keratosis can grow gradually, the signs and symptoms that may occur, includes:

  • Round or oval lumps or nodules on the face, neck, chest area, shoulders and back

  • Flat nodule or a raised bump slightly above the skin surface, characteristically rough, with a distinctive "sticky" appearance

  • Appears in large numbers (more than one)

  • The lumps don't hurt or pain, but sometimes they feel a little itch

Note: Avoid scratching the part that has a bulge to avoid swelling, bleeding, or infection.

Causes and Trigger Factors of Seborrheic Keratosis

The exact cause of seborrheic keratosis is still not known. However, the growth of this condition tends to be driven by genetic factors for it can run in families. In addition, there are several risk factors for developing seborrheic keratosis, including:

  • Excessive sun exposure for a long time

  • Elderly or over forty years old

  • Have a family history of seborrheic keratosis

Keep in mind that seborrheic keratosis is neither contagious nor cancerous.

Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment

In general, seborrheic keratosis does not require treatment because it is generally harmless. However, if you are bothered by the appearance or feel uncomfortable, seborrheic keratosis growths can be removed. At IORA Clinic, we offer several options, including:

  • Electrocautery - is a minor surgical procedure that uses an electric current. This procedure aims to lift and remove lumps or nodules. Before the procedure, patients will be applied a numb cream so they feel comfortable during the process. The treatment usually takes around 20 - 30 minutes depending on how many lumps they have.

  • Laser Treatment - utilizing the power of light, lasers are another option for treating the growth of existing lumps. The laser procedure aims to burn the bumps, sterilize the wound, and seal the tissue.

When to See a Doctor

Go see a dermatologist if the appearance of a lump or growth makes you uncomfortable. Further, always make sure that there is no bleeding or irritation when your clothes rub against the lump. Then, check with a dermatologist if you notice an unusual change in the skin, such as a wound or growth that is very fast, bleeding, and doesn't get better over time.


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