121 East 60th Street, Suite 8AB, New York, NY 10022

Ph. (212) 285-1110

Long Island

901 Stewart Ave, Suite 240, Garden City, NY 11530

Ph. (516) 512-7616

New York City (212) 285-1110

Garden City, NY (516) 512-7616

Seborrheic Keratosis Treatment in New York

Seborrheic keratoses are common, benign skin growths. They usually occur after age 30. They can arise in any location. They do not commonly occur on the lips, palms, or soles. There can be one or multiple growths. They have a very varied appearance: they can be flat or raised, and may feel smooth, velvety, or greasy. They are classically described as looking “stuck on” the skin. The color of the growths is very diverse; they can be white, pink, brown, or black. There may be different colors within the same growth. They may look similar to melanoma, but they are not cancerous.

Some seborrheic keratoses are located in areas where they become irritated by clothing or friction, and can become irritated and painful. Other seborrheic keratoses are located in areas of cosmetic concern, such as the face or neck. For these reasons, many patients desire removal in order to increase comfort and improve appearance.

Seborrheic keratoses do not come back in the area where they were removed. After removal, the area of skin may be lighter than the surrounding skin. This color change may be permanent, or it may lighten after time.

Seborrheic Keratoses can be quickly removed by different methods:

  • Cryotherapy: This treatment is used to remove superficial lesions such as warts or seborrheic keratoses. Liquid nitrogen is applied or sprayed onto the growth. The temperature causes the abnormal cells to die. The treated area will crust, scab, and fall off after a few days, leaving normal healthy skin in its place.
  • Curettage & Electrosurgery: First, the growth is scooped out with a small tool. Next, a small electrical current is applied to the area to ensure removal of any remaining cells from the growth.

Seborrheic Keratosis FAQ

What is seborrheic keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is a common non-cancerous skin growth that usually appears in middle-aged and older adults. It originates from keratinocytes in the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. These growths are typically benign and do not cause cancer. Seborrheic keratoses can appear on any part of the body except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can be light tan, brown, black, or have other colors, and they appear gradually. These growths are usually round or oval and feel flat or slightly elevated, similar to a scab from a healing wound, and can range in size from very small to over 2.5 centimeters across. Seborrheic keratoses can resemble other skin growths that are precancerous, but they themselves are not precancerous. Seborrheic keratosis removal can be achieved with one or a combination of methods, including freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen, scraping off the growth, or burning it off with an electrical current.

How to prevent seborrheic keratosis?

While there is no foolproof method to prevent seborrheic keratosis, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of developing them. Most of these lesions are based on a person’s genetics.

One effective way to prevent seborrheic keratosis is to keep the skin well-nourished and hydrated at all times. This can be done by using a lotion that prevents the buildup of dead skin cells, such as a glycolic 10% (alpha hydroxy), beta hydroxy, or Amlactin lotion. These lotions can be found in most stores and may need to be tried several times to find one that works for you.

Another preventative measure is to use sunscreen to protect your skin against the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. It is also advisable to avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours and to wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and hats.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants and vitamins can help prevent seborrheic keratosis. Regular exercise and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to maintaining healthy skin.

How fast do seborrheic keratosis grow?

Seborrheic keratoses (SK) are non-cancerous skin growths that usually appear in older individuals, but can also affect younger adults. They are typically slow-growing and develop their texture gradually over time, although they can vary widely in appearance and size.

While SKs usually grow slowly, if many SKs erupt suddenly together, it might raise some concern. This unusual occurrence has sometimes been considered a sign of internal cancer, and doctors call it “the sign of Leser Trélat”.

The size of SK growths can also vary dramatically from small pinpoint dots to large spots the size of a quarter or even bigger. Most SKs begin as skin that suddenly feels waxy or bumpy in texture. This area may thicken, forming tough growths that look like warts or moles.

In some cases SKs can grow up to 8 to 10 millimeters larger than they should be and develop deep pits and cracks over time. However, the growth rate of SKs may vary significantly among individuals, and more research is needed to determine the exact growth rate of these skin lesions.

What does seborrheic keratosis look like?

It is usually brown, black or light tan in color and can be skin-colored, tan, brown, yellow, gray, or very dark brown that may appear black. They are slightly raised, and the growths (lesions) look waxy or scaly. They can look rough, like a wart, and may be somewhat flat and scaly with a rough texture, but may also have a bumpy, grainy surface that crumbles easily. Seborrheic keratosis usually appears gradually, usually on the face, neck, chest, or back. While these growths don’t usually cause any pain, they may itch or tingle.

What causes seborrheic keratosis?

Experts do not completely understand what causes seborrheic keratosis, a type of benign skin growth that often appears in middle-aged or older adults. However, there are some risk factors that have been identified. Firstly, seborrheic keratosis tends to run in families, indicating that there may be an inherited tendency. Secondly, skin damage due to sun exposure or dermatitis may increase the likelihood of developing seborrheic keratosis.

Seborrheic keratosis occurs when immature skin cells, known as keratinocytes, multiply rapidly, resulting in a non-cancerous growth. Seborrheic keratosis is not contagious and not cancerous. The growths may appear as scaly or wart-like bumps, and can be distinguished by the presence of keratin on the surface.

Although seborrheic keratosis usually causes no symptoms, some people may experience itchiness, irritation, or discomfort due to the growth’s location or tendency to catch on clothing. Seborrheic keratosis can be removed through various methods, including cryotherapy (freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen) or shave excision, among others.

Seborrheic keratosis is different from seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition that causes scaly patches and inflammation on the skin. The precise causes of seborrheic dermatitis are not fully understood, but it may be related to a yeast called Malassezia that naturally lives on the skin, or to genetic factors.

What triggers seborrheic keratosis?

One of the main risk factors is age, with seborrheic keratoses being more common in adults over 50 years old and tending to multiply as people get older. Other possible risk factors include sun exposure, changes in estrogen levels, a family history of seborrheic keratosis, fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) genetic mutation, PIK3CA genetic mutation, pregnancy, and hormone therapy.

It is not clear why seborrheic keratoses develop, but studies suggest that these growths may develop on skin that has been exposed to a lot of sun. Additionally, seborrheic keratoses are not contagious and do not harbor tumor suppressor gene mutations.

How to treat seborrheic keratosis?

There are several ways to treat seborrheic keratosis, including cryotherapy, electrosurgery, curettage, and topical medications. Cryotherapy, which involves applying liquid nitrogen to the affected area, is the most common treatment method. Electrosurgery, curettage, or a combination of both can also be used to remove the growth. Dr. Rokhsar also uses pigment lasers like the Q-switched alexandrite laser and the pico lasers like picosure and picoway to remove seborrheic keratosis.

Seborrheic keratosis is a benign condition and does not require treatment unless it is causing discomfort or cosmetic concerns. It is recommended to have any growths examined by a dermatologist before attempting any treatment method.

What is the best treatment for seborrheic keratosis?

The best treatment for SK depends on various factors, including the size, location, and number of growths, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. Here are some of the most effective treatments for SK as suggested:

  • Electrosurgery: In electrosurgery, a surgical tool is used to scrape the growth off the skin after it has been numbed with a local anesthetic.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) can be an effective way to remove a seborrheic keratosis. The dermatologist applies liquid nitrogen, a very cold liquid, to the growth with a cotton swab or spray gun. The lesion freezes and falls off in a few days.
  • Medicated creams and lotions: Medicated shampoos, creams, and lotions are not effective treatments for seborrheic keratoses.
  • Pigment lasers like the alex laser or resurfacing lasers like the Fraxel and CO2 lasers are useful modalities in treating Seborrheic keratosis.

New York Office Locations

Upper East Side Manhattan Office
121 East 60th Street, Suite 8AB New York, NY 10022
(212) 285-1110

Long Island Office
901 Stewart Ave, Suite 240, Garden City, NY 11530
(516) 512-7616

Request an Appointment

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

Learn more about Dr. Rokhsar | Dr. Rokhsar's Google Scholar