What is a Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic Keratosis can simply be called a “Seb K” or “Seborrheic wart.”
A Seborrheic Keratoses become very common with increasing age, particularly in people who have inherited the genes from affected family members.
Seeing a “Seb K” is an expected part of a routine skin check.
Seb K is mainly made up of keratinocytes which are the predominant cells of the upper layer of the skin (epidermis). Keratinocytes produce keratin which is found in scale.
What’s the big deal about Seb Ks? Generally not much except:
- The lesions may sometimes be itchy.
- They can also catch on clothing and become inflamed or bleed.
- You might simply “not like them” – particularly if they occur in large numbers.
The big issue is really that Seb K may occasionally mimic a melanoma.
What does a Seborrheic Keratosis look like?
Seborrhoeic Keratoses have a huge variety of appearances.
I would guess that the a Skin Cancer Doctor is able to confidently ‘name’ a lesion as a ‘Seb K’ around 95% of the time. However, there are many faces of Seb K.
An obvious Seb K is generally scaly and brown in colour (light to dark). The lesion starts flat, and usually becomes raised from the skin surface – by which time it appears “stuck on.” The surface of an SK often appears warty or dull. Colours vary from pink through to black.
Dermatoscopy of SK will show characteristic features that usually avoids the need for a biopsy – but not always.
A pitfall for the skin cancer doctor is ‘melanoacanthomatous melanoma’ – in other words, a melanoma that looks like a Seb K.