Seborrheic Keratoses, also known as Seb K, and commonly referred to as barnacles, is a noncancerous skin growth that may be mistaken for a mole or wart. Seborrheic keratosis can also be mistaken for actinic keratosis or melanoma, a form of skin cancer, but they are completely harmless and will never become cancerous. A consultation with your doctor or dermatologist is the best way to diagnose and rule out melanoma.
Seborrheic Keratoses are present only in adults and are thought to be hereditary, as the condition appears to run in families. While there is no known cause, hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy or estrogen seem to precipitate their growth. Found in anywhere on the body’s skin except the palms of hands and soles of feet, seborrheic keratoses are quite common. They range in color from tan to red to brown or black. A person may have just one Seb K or several and they may increase in numbers with aging. This increase is normal and harmless. Seborrheic keratosis is neither preventable nor contagious.
Seb Ks are distinguishable from warts or moles based on the manner in which they are attached to the skin. Looking as if they can be plucked from the skin is one such distinction. Seborrheic keratoses may look as though they have simple been stuck on as they are attached only the top layer of skin while warts extend deep into the skin.
Treating seborrheic keratosis is an option but not necessary. Changes in the appearance of a Seb K or unusual irritation or bleeding should be addressed by your doctor. The same is true of a sudden appearance of new Seb Ks. Your doctor may conduct a biopsy along with the examination to rule out the development of any other medical conditions. Under normal circumstances, however, any treatment of Seb Ks would be purely cosmetic as there is no heath risk even in the most annoying cases.
Several removal options are generally accepted as the best options for treating seborrheic keratoses. These options are best discussed with you doctor and approached with a complete understanding of the advantages and risks. Across the board, the greatest risk is that of scarring and perhaps the forming of keloids in darker skin. A keloid is a raised, often darkened scar that may be just as annoying or unsightly as the Seb K.
These are the most common and currently most effective Seborrheic Keratosis removal options:
• Cryosurgery – Freezing by the application of liquid nitrogen
• Curettage – Surgical scraping and removal
• Electrosurgery – Cauterizing (burning) off the Seb K with an electric current
Given that there is no known cure or preventative measure for seborrheic keratosis, along with their completely benign (noncancerous) nature, removal pros and cons should be discussed carefully with your doctor and dermatologist.