by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Benign Skin Tumors)


Seborrheic keratosis is a raised growth on the skin. It is not cancerous and does not spread to others.


The exact cause it not known. Genetics may play a role.

Risk Factors

Seborrheic keratosis is more common in people aged 40 years and older. It is also more common in people with fair skin and a family history of this problem.


Most people have more than 1 growth. The growths may:

  • Look yellow, tan, brown, white, or black
  • Be waxy or look like warts
  • Be itchy when irritated by clothing or jewelry
  • Happen anywhere on the skin


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the skin. This is often enough to make the diagnosis in most people. A skin biopsy may be done on some people to confirm the diagnosis.

Punch Biopsy of the Skin
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The growth is harmless and does not need to be removed. Some people may want it removed when it is irritated by clothing or jewelry or is unsightly. This may result in small dark or light spot or a scar.

It can be removed using:

  • A tool to scrape it off
  • Cryotherapy to freeze the growth, which falls off a few days later
  • Laser surgery to burn the growth off


There are no current guidelines to prevent this problem.


American Academy of Dermatology 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians 


Canadian Dermatology Association 

College of Family Physicians of Canada 


Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2019.

Moreno-Ramírez D, Ruiz-Villaverde R, et al. Process of care for patients with benign cysts and tumors: Consensus document of the Andalusian Regional Section of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV). Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2016 Jun;107(5):391-399.

Seborrheic keratosis. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed December 10, 2019.

Seborrheic keratosis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed December 10, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 07/28/2020