​Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is a non-cancerous growth that may be black, brown or tan in colour. It is very common and occurs on the face, chest, shoulders and back. It can appear alone or in groups and has a slightly raised, scaly appearance. The exact cause of seborrheic keratosis in not known but it tends to run in the family and may appear after you have crossed your forties. They are painless and harmless, but you may get them removed if they are a cosmetic concern.

Seborrheic keratosis can be identified by its typical characteristics which include:

  • Round or oval shape

  • Black, brown or tan in colour

  • Flat or slightly elevated with a scaly surface

  • Few millimetres to more than an inch in size​

You may have to book a consult with one of our doctors at the Teeth and Skin Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital if you notice development of many growths in a short period of time, sudden increase in size, change in colour, bleeding or irritation, or sores that grow quickly, bleed and do not heal.​​​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​
Seborrheic keratosis can be diagnosed by a simple physical exam conducted by your doctor to observe the growth. If your doctor feels uncertain about the lesion and suspects that it might be cancerous, they may recommend removal so it can be studied under a microscope.

While seborrheic keratosis is generally harmless, it can be unnerving to find a new lesion on your skin, especially if it appears on the face. Your doctor may suggest a number of options to remove the growth, especially if it bleeds or becomes irritated. These options include:

  • Cryosurgery in which the growth is frozen using liquid nitrogen. However this procedure may not work on large, thick growths and cause the lightening of skin.

  • Electrocautery in which the growth is burned using an electric current. This procedure may be done alone or in combination with curettage and can cause scarring if not done properly.

  • Curettage in which the skin’s surface is scraped using a special instrument. It can used in combination with cryosurgery or electrocautery

  • Ablation in which the growth is vaporized with a laser

  • At times, there may be the need to go for skin biopsy to rule out any possibility of skin cancer​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.