What is Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic keratosis is a kind of growth observed on the skin, which is harmless and noncancerous. They can primarily be seen on the neck, shoulders, back, face or chest as black, brown or pale outgrowths which develop due to proliferation of some epidermal cells on that spot. Plurally known as keratoses s also commonly termed as seborrheic warts or cell papilloma. The scaly, waxy and slightly elevated warts do not turn into cancerous outgrowths and hence are harmless, painless and need no treatment though, they can be surgically removed.
Who suffers from Seborrheic Keratosis?
It is a common form of skin ailment, generally observed to occur in adults above the age of 60 years. The growth begins by the age of 20-30 years and flares up later.
What are the causes of Seborrheic Keratosis?
The seborrheic keratoses do not result from sebaceous glands and do not show distribution like that in the case of seborrheic dermatitis. Hence, the exact cause of the ailment is unknown. Over the years seborrheic keratoses cases has increased in number. Also, in other cases, the condition can be inherited and can show numerous keratoses. It can be said that:
- Seborrhec keratosis can occur as a result of sun exposure or prolonged dermatitis.
- They are commonly seen in and around skin folds such as on the neck or in the underarms indicating that friction between skin folds might be the reason for eruption.
- They cannot be linked to a viral infection like that of the human papilloma virus.
- Research on seborrheic keratosis shows activation and mutation of certain genes which are stable, though they are hereditary, of the epidermal keratinocyte cells.
- They do not encourage mutations such as tumor suppressor gene mutation but, can be linked to exposure of UV radations.
Where on the body can Seborrheic Keratosis be found?
These lesion-like warts may begin growing with a single case of outbreak, leading to multiple sightings over the years. They appear in areas such as:
They are never observed on the palms of hands or soles of the feet.
What do the warts of Seborrheic Keratosis look like?
These warts may appear like moles and are many times thought to be cancerous outbreaks. Generally not painful, they may sometimes show irritation and may lead to itching sensation. They start off as rough bumps, which later on grow waxy and flaky as they become thicker and are usually oval or round in shape.
The lesions, f present at an inappropriate spot may become irritating and annoying but, they should not be picked or scratched extensively as it may lead to bleeding, infection and swelling at the site of the keratosis.
They can be found solitary or in groups in areas such as under the breasts, in the scalp, n the groin or all over the spine.
When should you go to a doctor?
Once diagnosed, the seborrheic keratosis are not a thing to worry but, it can be evidently difficult for the patient to distinguish between a harmless outgrowth and melanoma. Patient should go to a doctor if:
- There are frequent new growths
- An existing wart changes in size, shape or color.
- There is only one specific growth and not numerous, like that of seborrheic keratoses.
- The growth appears with a blurred border.
- The growth is painful and irritating.
What are the other variants of Seborrheic Keratosis?
- Solar lentigo : usually flat, bordered pigmentation at the sight of sun exposure.
- Dermatosis papulosa nigra: small and heavy pigmented mass often present on a tiny peduncle on neck and head regions, found in dark skinned people.
- Stucco Keratoses: white, yellow or grey papules on lower extremties of the body.
How is Seborrheic Keratosis diagnosed?
It is generally easy to demarcate seborrheic keratosis as
- They are well-defined, warty papules.
- They are found together in numerous places.
- Dermatoscopic techniques show multiple orange and white clods due to the presence of keratin, forming furrows and ridges, giving it a cracky appearance.
- The seborrheic keratoses may be put forward for a partial biopsy for confirmation.
What are the complications observed in individuals suffering from Seborrheic keratosis?
- There is a fair chance of skin cancer to arise at the site of the seborrheic keratosis.
- In rare cases, elevated seborrheic keratoses may contain underlying malignancy. This paraneoplastic syndrome is often denoted as the sign of Leser-Trelat.
- An inflamed, irritated, red lesion may result in eczematous dermatitis seen around the keratosis.
Seborrheic Keratosis Pictures
How can Seborrheic Keratosis be treated?
An annoying keratosis can be removed if need be if it is unsightly, fixes on clothing or itches. Several techniques may be used for their removal such as:
- Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen
- Curettage or Electrocautery
- Ablation uses laser to make the lesion disappear.
- Shave biopsy (done with a scalpel).
- Focal chemical peeling done with chemicals like trichloroacetic acid.
All above methods have reasonable disadvantages.