Seborrheic Keratosis

A seborrheic keratosis is a lesion on the skin. The lesions are caused by the cumulative effects of long-term exposure to ultra violet (UV) light. The condition often affects people who spend extended periods outdoors. While it is also common in the elderly, some ethnic groups may also be more susceptible to developing seborrheic keratosis at a young age. Seborrheic keratoses are noncancerous skin growths with a low chance of turning into skin cancer.


Long-term cumulative exposure to the sun

Risk Factors

Risk factors of seborrheic keratosis include:
  • People with fair/light skin
  • People who get sunburned easily
  • People who are exposed to the sun for long or regular periods
  • People who constantly work in the sun such as farmers and fishermen
  • People who play outdoor sports
  • People who have family history of this condition


A seborrheic keratosis usually appears as a light tan growth that may be slightly elevated with a scaly surface. It is more common on sun exposed areas. Some people develop multiple growths in the same area.

In case any growth on the skin has a suspicious appearance, please consult a doctor first, because skin lesions may become benign or malignant. Some skin cancers may look like seborrheic keratosis.


After asking about any symptoms and examining the lesions, the doctor may refer the patient to a dermatologist. In order to check for the presence of cancer, the doctor may also collect a sample for lab testing.

Treatment Options

  • Chemical Peeling: This method uses acids to peel off and exfoliate the upper layer of skin. Only good for small lesions.
  • Surgery: Injections are first used to numb the area before the seborrheic keratosis is removed.
  • Freezing with Liquid Nitrogen: The growth can be frozen off with liquid nitrogen.
  • Laser Treatment: An injection or patch will first numb the area before the seborrheic keratosis is treated with a laser.


  • Avoid long-term sun exposure. If necessary, wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
  • If engaging in outdoor activities during the day, wear a long-sleeve shirt, long pants or skirt, and broad-brimmed hat.
  • See the doctor regularly to check for skin cancer.
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