What Is a Seborrhoeic Keratosis?
Seborrhoeic keratoses are harmless, pigmented lesions that appear on the skin as a sign of ageing. They are very common among both men and women and can appear on the body singularly or in large numbers. Seborrhoeic keratoses are also known as basal cell papillomas and seborrhoeic warts and are even sometimes referred to as ‘barnacles’ due to their appearance on the skin.
Features of Seborrhoeic Keratoses
Seborrhoeic keratoses do not all look the same and range in colour from pink to brown to black or as a mixture of colours. They can be raised or flat and can have a smooth, rough or waxy surface.
Little is known about the causes of seborrhoeic keratoses, although it has been suggested that sun exposure and dermatitis could be a trigger for some. They also run in families.
Seborrheic keratoses may arise within a Solar lentigo or “old age spot” resulting from sun damage, and is a flat patch of pigmented skin, with a well-defined border.
Dermoscopy (a skin examination technique where the doctor uses a dermatoscope to assess the lesion using magnification) is a useful tool in distinguishing between a benign seborrhoeic keratosis and a more sinister basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or melanoma. At Altruderm, Dr. McDaid uses this technique to diagnose pigmented lesions, and samples can be sent to the histopathology lab to confirm the diagnosis.
Tips for Managing Seborrhoeic Keratoses
Dr McDaid says:
Seborrhoeic keratosis can look alarming due to their variable appearance. They are however, by and large, benign. To be safe, at Altruderm we always send a biopsy to the histopathology lab.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of seborrhoeic keratosis?
Seborrhoeic keratoses do not tend to be symptomatic. They can become irritated where they show signs of inflammation and are red and crusted. They may be a nuisance and catch on clothes. Some people dislike the appearance of them and wish to have them removed.
What is the best treatment for seborrhoeic keratosis?
Seborrheoic keratoses can be treated using a medical device called a curette which scrapes the lesion under local anaesthetic. At the Altruderm clinic, we also offer surgical removal via radiowave surgery where the lesion is shaved off with a specialist electrode. Your consultation with the doctor will determine the treatment options available to you.
Where can I find out more information online about seborrhoeic keratosis?
The British Association of Dermatologists has a useful Patient Information Leaflet about seborrheic keratoses available on their website.
Visit our Seborrhoeic Keratosis Removal page if you would like more information about how we treat this condition at Altruderm.