What are the Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis?

What are the Symptoms of Seborrheic Keratosis?

Appearance and Symptoms

These growths are often referred to as ‘senile warts’, as they are wart-like in appearance and are typically more common in those over 50. They can vary in colour, though they’re typically brown, light tan or even black. Due to their elevated, waxy and slightly scaly appearance, they can look like they’ve been painted or placed on the skin, or resemble raised scabs. They may start small in size and rough in texture, developing a thicker, more wart-like surface over time. They can also vary in size, from tiny growths to being larger than 2.5cm in diameter. They are generally oval or round in shape.

While they’re often painless and symptom-free, some people may find they occasionally become irritated or inflamed, leading to itching. Depending on how large they are and their location, they may be bothersome and some people may find they feel irritation when they’ve covered them by clothes. If the growth is damaged it can lead to swelling or bleeding, and then there’s a risk of it becoming infected. It’s therefore usually advised to refrain from scratching, picking or rubbing at them.

Multiple growths may be present, though some people find there’s just one to start with and that the growths spread over time. They can appear anywhere on the body apart from the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They’re most often found on the chest, back, face, abdomen, scalp or shoulders. Visible growths can be unsightly, which may affect self-confidence in those who become self-conscious of their presence.

Causes of Growth Symptoms

There’s no known cause of these growths, nor any known way to prevent their development. However, age is thought to be a risk factor as these lesions are more common in those over the age of 50. Some research suggests sun exposure, eczema, sunburn, viruses like HPV, skin irritation, certain medications, and a family history of the growths may all be additional possible risk factors.

Diagnosis and Treatment

These growths are not contagious, nor are they a risk factor for developing skin cancer. In appearance, they can look like melanoma. A dermatologist or your doctor will be best placed to distinguish between the two. If you develop new growths, find a lesion is irritated, or you’re concerned about any changes, such as irregular borders or an unusual colour, see your doctor. Regular checks are recommended for those with seborrheic keratosis. Although there’s usually no treatment required, they can be removed with minor surgical techniques.

While these are benign growths that are often symptom-free, they may be irritating and can be unsightly, causing emotional distress. It’s important to have them professionally diagnosed, and they can be removed if they’re particularly bothersome or become infected but professional advice should always be sought.

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