March 30, 2007

Seborrheic keratoses, Skin tags


Seborrheic keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses (seborrheic warts) are flesh-colored, brown, or black growths that can appear anywhere on the skin.

These harmless growths are very common in middle-aged and older people. Some people have a hundred or more. Although these growths can appear anywhere, they most often appear on the torso and the temples.

Seborrheic keratoses are round or oval and vary in size from less than ¼ inch to several inches. They appear to be stuck on the skin and often have a waxy or scaly surface. These growths develop slowly. They are not cancerous and do not become so. Dark brown keratoses may sometimes be mistaken for atypical moles or melanomas.

Treatment is not needed unless the keratoses become irritated or itchy or are cosmetically undesirable. They are best removed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. Laser removal is also effective (see Using Lasers to Treat Skin Problems). Alternatively, a doctor can cut them out with a scissors, scalpel, or other sharp instrument.

Skin tags

Skin tags are soft, small, flesh-colored or slightly darker skin growths that develop mostly on the neck, in the armpits, or in the genital area.

Usually, skin tags cause no trouble, but they may be unattractive, and clothing or nearby skin may rub and irritate them so that they bleed or hurt. A doctor can easily remove a skin tag by burning it off with an electric needle or by cutting it off with a scalpel or scissors.

Adapted from: Merck & Co. Inc