Seborrheic Keratosis

A seborrheic keratosis is a  benign (non-cancerous) growth of the skin that can appear anywhere on the body, most often on the face, chest, and back. They tend to grow slowly over time.


Jennifer J. Janiga, MD, FAAD -- Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic Keratosis


What is seborrheic keratosis?

A Seborrheic keratosis is a benign (non-cancerous) growth of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body, but most often occurs on the face, chest, and back. It tends to grow slowly over time. Some people have hundreds of individual keratoses, others have just a few, but most people have at least one.

What are the signs and symptoms of seborrheic keratosis?

A seborrheic keratosis may cause pain or itching. Keratoses typically appear as light brown areas on the skin that appear to be “stuck on”. Typically, the growth has a defined border that is raised compared to the surrounding skin. The surface can have an irregular appearance. Sometimes there are small white or black circles within the growth. Some lesions can grow to a very large size and can appear very dark.

What are the causes of seborrheic keratosis?

Although the cause of seborrheic keratosis is unknown, the condition does tend to run in families. The condition is more likely as individual ages, and the number of growths generally increases with age.

What can be done to prevent seborrheic keratosis?

There is no prevention for seborrheic keratosis.

How is seborrheic keratosis diagnosed?

Dr. Jennifer Janiga can diagnose most growths of seborrheic keratosis by careful examination.  Some seborrheic keratosis may be very dark and could be confused with melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Dr. Janiga may take a skin biopsy if necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the long-term effects of seborrheic keratosis?

Some seborrheic keratoses become very large or unsightly. A person may want to have these removed, but there are no long term effects.

What are the risks of seborrheic keratosis to others?

Seborrheic keratoses are not contagious, and pose no risk to others.

What are the treatments for seborrheic keratosis?

Generally, no treatment is needed for seborrheic keratosis. Very large growths or growths that appear on the face can be removed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen, scraping them off, electrodessication or surgical removal.

How is seborrheic keratosis monitored?

Seborrheic keratosis is, in and of itself, a benign condition with no real chance of becoming a skin cancer, however people with a large number of them will find it difficult to distinguish them from a mole or even a skin cancer. Therefore, yearly skin examinations are recommended by Dr. Janiga to monitor for any new or worrisome growths. Dr. Janiga recommends that you come in sooner if anything on your body changes, grows, bleeds, itches or bothers you in any way.

For more information, or to set up a consultation with Dr. Janiga to discuss seborrheic keratosis in our Reno / Tahoe dermatology and cosmetic surgery office, please send us an email or call 775-398-4600. Appointment length varies but is usually not more than 15-30 minutes.


Jennifer J. Janiga, MD, FAAD

Dr. Janiga enjoys taking care of both adults and children. Her extensive training and years of experience in medical dermatology, lasers, and cosmetic procedures allows her to treat her patients with the comprehensive attention they deserve.

Dr. Janiga listens attentively to what patients have to say, and works with them in planning the right course of action on an individual basis. Honest talk, humility and a fresh perspective paired with years of experience and education all contribute to the effectiveness of her straightforward care.