Harvard Men's Health Watch

Is there a way to treat seborrheic keratosis?

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Q. Years ago, my doctor told me a skin growth on my back was a seborrheic keratosis. Now I have more, and they seem to be multiplying over time. Is there any way to prevent them?

A. Seborrheic keratoses are raised, rough lesions that appear as a waxy brown, black, or tan growth. This common skin condition often shows up after age 50 on the trunk, back, face, or neck. The good news is that even though keratoses can increase in number over time, they arenít cancerous or contagious.

Itís not known what causes these growths. They are more common in sun-exposed areas, and certain families may be prone to large numbers, which suggests a genetic connection. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent them. If theyíre bothersome, they can be removed by freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen or from a shave biopsy, where the growths are scraped from the skin with a small blade; however, new ones are certain to appear.

ó by William Kormos, M.D.Editor in Chief, Harvard Menís Health Watch

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