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Seborrheic Keratosis

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Seborrheic Keratosis

(Benign Skin Tumors)


Seborrheic keratosis is a raised growth on the skin. It is not cancerous and does not spread to others.


The exact cause of seborrheic keratosis not known. Genetics may play a role.

Risk Factors

Seborrheic keratosis is more common in people aged 30 years and older. Other things that raise the risk are having:

  • Fair (light) skin
  • A family history of seborrheic keratosis


Most people have more than one growth. The growths may:

  • Look yellow, tan, brown, white, or black
  • Be waxy or look like warts
  • Be itchy when irritated by clothing or jewelry
  • Happen anywhere on the skin


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the skin. This is often enough to make the diagnosis in most people. A skin biopsy may be done on some people to confirm the diagnosis.

Punch Biopsy of the Skin.

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The growth is harmless and does not need to be removed. Some people may want it removed when it is irritated by clothing or jewelry or they do not like how it looks. This may result in small dark or light spot or a scar.

It can be removed using:

  • A tool to scrape it off
  • Cryotherapy to freeze the growth, which falls off a few days later
  • Laser surgery to burn the growth off


There are no current guidelines to prevent this problem.





  • Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/common-benign-skin-lesions.
  • Seborrheic keratosis: overview. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/seborrheic-keratoses-overview.
  • Seborrheic keratosis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aocd.org/page/SeborrheicKeratoses.
  • Wollina U. Recent advances in managing and understanding seborrheic keratosis. F1000Res. 2019;8:F1000 Faculty Rev-1520.


  • April Scott, NP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.