Common Lumps & Bumps – Seborrheic Keratoses
What are they?
Seborrheic keratoses (SKs) are common benign growths most often seen in middle-aged and older people. They are caused by the pigmentation and proliferation of epidermal skin cells. Like moles, SKs can occur on almost any part of the skin.
SKs can vary in shape and size and resemble almost anything. Most commonly, they start off as small rough bumps that gradually thicken and produce a greasy, ‘stuck on’ appearance.Larger lesions may have warty protusions that resemble horns. SKs generally are brown but may be gray, black or even skin colored.
Why do I get them?
The exact reasons why a person develops SKs are unknown. We do know that they tend to occur more frequently as people age and are rarely seen in people under 30. They are also associated with a positive family history of having SKs, as well as with sunlight exposure. Less commonly SKs may develop after inflammatory skin changes such as with severe sunburn or eczema flares.
Are they dangerous?
No. Seborrheic keratoses are always benign. Rarely, a sudden appearance of multiple SKs may be suggestive of underlying carcinomas of the GI tract, lymphomas or leukaemia (Lesser-Trelat sign). It is important to distinguish between seborrheic keratoses and melanomas or squamous cell carcinomas. When in doubt, a biopsy of the skin tissue may be useful.
What should I do?
Seborrheic keratoses may need to be removed for a couple of reasons: for further testing to rule out other malignant lesions or because they are unsightly and/or causing localized symptoms such as itching and friction with clothing etc.
How do I remove a lesion?
Seborrheic keratoses are highly amenable to cyrotherapy, or the process of freezing and removing the lesion. Alternatively you may choose to remove a lesion by surgical excision via either curettage or shave excision. Electrocautery is also a viable options of removal. All of these procedures may be done safely in the outpatient setting with little to no local anaesthesia.
Occasionally, if malignancy needs to be excluded, you may need to undergo a punch biopsy of the lesion. The remaining defect can be sutured close and you will need a follow-up appointment in 10-14 days time for removal of the sutures.
If you suspect you may have Seborrheic Keratoses and want them removed, visit Our Clinics.
Need more advice?
- Robertson Walk (Anonymous HIV Clinic) (+65 6238 7810)
- DUO Galleria (Bugis MRT) (+65 6976 5023)
- Novena Medical Centre (+65 6397 2095)
- Somerset – Orchard Building (+65 6262 0762)
- Raffles Place – PLUS (+65 6962 7144)
- Holland V (+65 6235 1339)
- Siglap (East Coast Road) (+65 6962 2144)
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