If you have had a full body skin exam, or even an appointment for something else, you have probably heard Dr. Walls talk about “maturity spots.” Well what are these maturity spots? In the medical world, they are called seborrheic keratoses (SK’s).
Seborrheic keratoses are benign (noncancerous) growths that occur in the epidermis, or outermost skin layer. They typically present during or after the fourth decade of life, although they may occur at younger ages, and are more prevalent among Caucasians. Seborrheic keratoses often appear “stuck on” the skin, and surfaces often feel waxy and uneven.1 They can present on all skin surfaces, except on the palms and soles, and may be yellow, gray-brown, or black in color.1 Simply put, seborrheic keratoses occur due to a handful of reasons. Most commonly the culprits are increasing age, genes, and possible UV light/sun exposure. There have been many studies that have shown an association with the location of SK’s and sun-exposed areas, in addition to the association of increased age and the development of SK’s.1
Although they are benign, it is important to distinguish these lesions from other similar looking benign or cancerous skin tumors, such as melanoma. For these reasons, it is important to have a dermatologist, especially one trained in dermatoscopy, analyze any questionable or new skin lesions. Additionally, abrupt onset of numerous SK’s is sometimes seen in conjunction with cancer of the stomach, colon, and breast, in addition to leukemias and lymphomas.1 This is known as Leser-Trelat syndrome, but it is important to note that abrupt onset of SK’s has also been seen in noncancerous tumor growths, pregnancy, and generalized eczema.1
Treatment of SK’s is not mandatory, but removal may be necessary for biopsy or cosmetic reasons. In the office, these lesions can be easily removed by shaving them off with a scalpel or by freezing (cryotherapy). These two techniques often yield great cosmetic results! Other techniques such as electricocautery may be employed. These lesions can be quite stubborn, and it may take more than one treatment to completely get rid of them.
1. Hafner C, Vogt T. Seborrheic keratosis. Journal Der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft = Journal Of The German Society Of Dermatology: JDDG. 2008;6(8):664-677. doi:10.1111/j.1610-0387.2008.06788.x.