What are Seborrhoeic Keratoses?

Seborrhoeic Keratoses (often confused with skin tags or moles)  are very common,  harmless and often pigmented growths on the skin.

Seborrhoeic Keratosis



What causes Seborrhoeic Keratoses?

Despite their name, Seborrhoeic Keratoses are nothing to do with sebaceous glands or viral warts.

They are benign growths due to a build up of ordinary skin cells.

They usually start to appear after the age of 40, although they can appear in younger people.

The majority of older people will have a few Seborrhoeic Keratoses, while some will have large numbers.

They are not infectious and do not become malignant.

Are Seborrhoeic Keratoses hereditary?

No, however the tendency to have a higher number of Seborrhoeic Keratoses can run in families. For example, if your father or mother had many Seborrhoeic Keratoses, you are more likely to have an increased number.

What are the symptoms of Seborrhoeic Keratoses?

Seborrhoeic keratoses are harmless, but are often considered to be a nuisance. They can itch, become inflamed, and catch on clothing. Many people dislike the look of them, particularly when they occur on the face.

What do Seborrhoeic keratoses look like?

Seborrhoeic_keratosis 2

Seborrhoeic Keratoses look similar to moles


Seborrhoeic Keratoses have a rough surface, and range in colour from golden brown to mid brown to almost black. They can affect anyone, but on dark- skinned people they can also appear as multiple small dark brown or black bumps, especially on the face and the neck; in such a case this is called Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra.

Small flat Seborrhoeic keratoses can often become more raised and larger as the years go by. Their size varies from less than one centimetre to several centimetres across. They give the impression that they are stuck onto the surface of the skin; however some look like small pigmented skin tags.

Seborrhoeic keratoses occur most often on the trunk, but they are also common on the head and neck. Their numbers vary, and one person may have just one Seborrhoeic keratosis whilst others can have hundreds. Once present, they usually stay, and new ones often appear over the years.

How are Seborrhoeic keratoses diagnosed?

Seborrhoeic Keratoses are much more common than skin cancers, however a very dark Seborrhoeic Keratosis can look similar to a melanoma. It is therefore important that either a dermatologist, general practitioner or a specialist nurse checks any pigmented lesions to ensure the correct diagnosis.

Can Seborrhoeic Keratoses be cured?

Individual Seborrhoeic Keratoses can be treated successfully in the ways listed below. However, new Seborrhoeic Keratoses will continue to appear.

How can Seborrhoeic Keratoses be treated?

Seborrhoeic Keratoses are common and harmless and cause no symptoms, however for those who wish to have some or all of their keratoses removed it may be possible to have them treated by our specialist nurses. Treatment can occur by short wave diathermy, a relatively comfortable heat treatment; scraping them off after applying local anaesthetic cream.  Patients will need to attend more than one treatment session, sometimes up to 5.   Treatment price is £250 per treatment.

What can I do?

Make an appointment to see our nurse specialist for a thorough skin health consultation.  A photograph will be taken of the seborrhoeic keratosis. Providing you are suitable,  treatment takes 30 minutes.

Where can I get more information about Seborrhoeic keratoses?

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