Seborrheic Keratosis

If you notice bumps on your skin that turn into waxy brown spots, don't be alarmed. They're not signs of skin cancer; they're seborrheic keratoses — common, benign skin growths.

Conditions and Causes

Seborrheic keratoses are harmless masses, typically round or oval in shape, that range in size from small specks to more than an inch in diameter. In terms of color, they can be white, tan, brown, or black. They may be flat or slightly elevated, with a scaly surface and a waxy, “pasted on” look. They are often confused with warts, moles, actinic keratoses, or skin cancers.

Seborrheic keratoses tend to occur in middle-aged and older adults. You may have a single growth, but they are most commonly found in clusters on the trunk, scalp, face, or neck. Although the cause is unknown, you are more likely to develop seborrheic keratoses if a family member has them. They are not contagious.


Seborrheic keratoses do not require treatment, but you may want to have them removed if they are unsightly or uncomfortable. Do not scratch or rub them, as this may lead to inflammation, bleeding, or infection.

We offer the following treatment options:

Liquid nitrogen freezes the growth, which falls off in a few days.

After numbing the keratosis, the doctor uses an electric current to burn or cauterize it. This procedure is also called electrocautery.

Often combined with electrosurgery, curettage involves scraping the growth off the skin with a curette, a scoop-shaped surgical instrument.

A laser treatment will vaporize the growth.

Even if you aren’t interested in treatment, you should see us to make sure your growths are, in fact, seborrheic keratoses.

Signs of skin cancer include:

  • A suspicious growth that changes rapidly, bleeds, or doesn’t heal
  • Many skin growths developing over a few weeks or months

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