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What are Seborrheic Warts?

Seborrheic warts, also known as seborrheic keratoses, are non-cancerous skin growths that typically appear in adulthood. They have a waxy, slightly raised texture and can vary in color. Often mistaken for moles, these benign lesions are a common sign of skin aging. Discover how to identify them and when they might require medical attention in our comprehensive visual guide. What will you learn about your skin today?
Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

Seborrheic warts are also called seborrheic keratosis and technically, they are not considered warts. They are actually a kind of growth on a person's skin that’s more like a tumor, though they have no potential to become cancerous. Seborrheic warts can appear anywhere on a person’s skin, and there may sometimes be several. The lesions aren’t actually considered dangerous, but sometimes people choose to treat them anyway for a variety of reasons.

Spotting seborrheic warts can often be very easy because their appearance is pretty distinctive. According to experts, the lesions don’t actually look like they are attached to an individual’s skin, and there often appears to be an edge where they meet the skin as if they are glued on. Sometimes the color can change a little, but a brown or tan shade is normal.

An expert on seborrheic warts may advise a patient to leave them alone because treatment may not be necessary.
An expert on seborrheic warts may advise a patient to leave them alone because treatment may not be necessary.

Seborrheic warts aren’t contagious, and don’t actually spread, but they do sometimes appear in clustered areas. Some experts think that sun exposure might play some kind of role in causing them to appear, but the evidence suggesting this isn’t generally conclusive. The warts are known to occasionally be hereditary, but other than that, the cause is uncertain.

Some experts believe sun exposure can be a factor in the appearance of seborrheic warts.
Some experts believe sun exposure can be a factor in the appearance of seborrheic warts.

Many experts suggest leaving seborrheic warts alone because treatment isn’t really necessary, and it may cost a significant amount of money. There is also some discomfort associated with treatment, and some of the methods have a possibility of leaving behind some level of scarring. Despite this, there are many people who choose to have the lesions removed. Some people may remove them because they are unpleasant to look at or because they itch.

The methods for removing seborrheic warts are pretty wide ranging. One of the main techniques is to freeze them with liquid nitrogen. This has a possibility of leaving a scar, but it is a relatively fast and convenient surgical method. Some people also have them shaved off. This isn’t always possible, and it has to be done carefully to avoid scarring.

Sometimes doctors and patients may have trouble telling the difference between seborrheic warts and melanoma cancers. In many cases, the differences between them are obvious, but not always. When there is a similarity, doctors may be forced to do tests for the sake of safety. Melanoma can potentially be deadly, so it is often recommended that patients should visit a doctor if they develop any kind of suspicious looking skin growth.

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Discussion Comments

ddljohn

@feruze-- If the warts are not very large, it's a good idea to leave them alone. I had seborrheic warts on my hands and I had mine removed. I have skin discoloration because of it.

I've heard that it is possible to get rid of seborrheic warts with chemical exfoliants like salyclic acid and glycolic acid. But I'm assuming that they have to be quite potent to be effective and you might have to use it for months until it works. You should ask your dermatologist about it.

fBoyle

@feruze-- I don't think they come back after removal, but I'm not sure. I had mine removed with cryotherapy and they did not come back. But I don't know if this varies from individual to individual.

Basically all removal methods have the potential to leave a scar. I have very small scars from cryotherapy. It's not very noticeable but it's there nonetheless. There is also a risk of scarring if you were to have them cut out or burned off with laser treatment.

bear78

If these warts are removed, will they come back in the same spot?

Which seborrheic keratosis treatment method is best for avoiding scars?

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    • An expert on seborrheic warts may advise a patient to leave them alone because treatment may not be necessary.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      An expert on seborrheic warts may advise a patient to leave them alone because treatment may not be necessary.
    • Some experts believe sun exposure can be a factor in the appearance of seborrheic warts.
      By: Liv Friis-larsen
      Some experts believe sun exposure can be a factor in the appearance of seborrheic warts.