Seborrheic Keratosis

2332499.jpeg

What is it?

  • Called SK’s for short, they are often “stuck-on” raised wart-like growths on the skin. There may just be one or clusters of dozens.   They usually start off small and tan in colour and slowly over time get bigger and turn dark brown or black. 

  • They are not contagious, have NO relationship to skin cancer and can NEVER turn into melanoma (unlike moles), and they do not pose any risk to health.

  • They are often genetic and can be traced to other family members.  We tend to  develop more as we age and they are extremely common, with over 90% of patients over 60 having at least one.

  • Some people find them unsightly and choose to have them removed.

 

What are the symptoms?

  • Typically there are no symptoms, but the spots can get bigger and darker with time.

  • Occasionally they can be itchy or catch on clothing, jewelry or bra straps. 

 

Do I need to do any tests as part of the diagnosis?

  • In most cases the answer is NO as this tends to be a clinical diagnosis

  • Occasionally your doctor will look more closely with a light that can magnify the skin. 

  • If there are suspicious features sometimes a skin biopsy is done to rule out skin cancer.

 

What are the treatment options available?

  • As the lesions are not harmful and quite common, there is no public coverage for treatment, therefore there is a fee for cosmetic purposes

  • Patients often just leave them alone.

  • There are currently no creams that can remove them, but moisturizers can minimize the dryness and itch.

 

  1. Cryotherapy or Liquid Nitrogen or “freezing”

  • This is an in office procedure that tends to sting as it causes “frost bite” to the skin.

  • The area treated typically blisters, and crusts up over the next few days and the scabs fall off on their own.  You can use Vaseline or polysporin to help with healing. 

  • This treatment can sometimes leave a permanent white mark

 

  2. Electrocautery or “burning”

  • This is an in office procedure using small electrical shocks to remove the lesion.

  • There is some mild discomfort during the procedure that most patients can tolerate.  Let your doctor know if you have a pacemaker.  You can use Vaseline or polysporin to help with healing

 

  3. Laser ablation treatment