More on Seborrheic Keratoses (AKA Age Spots)
Seborrheic keratoses can get red, swollen, and crusty. These inflamed lesions can be itchy or tender. Many insurances cover the removal of inflamed lesions. Treatment of asymptomatic, noninflamed age spots is considered to be cosmetic. Most practices will perform the removal of multiple seb kers for a reasonable fee. Post freezing of the lesions, application of petroleum jelly, or of the ointment Aquaphor to the treated area 2 to 3 times per day will speed up the healing process. Earlier, smaller, flatter lesions are a lot easier to remove than large, thick ones. For a better cosmetic outcome, have them treated with liquid nitrogen periodically at the dermatologist’s office.
One big problem with seb kers is they make self skin exam difficult. We have been instructing our patients for years to monitor their skin for changing moles, and the “A, B, C, D, E”s of melanoma. When you have many brown spots, and all appear irregular, different colors, and changing, identification of worrisome moles and melanomas becomes difficult. Moles (nevi) tend to be smoother in texture than a seb ker, but that is sometimes difficult to judge. In fact, every dermatologist has sent in biopsies over the years to the lab asking them to identify whether the growth in question was an innocent seborrheic keratosis or a dangerous mole or melanoma. For that reason, it is important for patients with many spots and changing lesions to be monitored by their dermatologist or primary care doctor.
Most of us would like to grow old. We can’t always do that without a few barnacles to show for it. No need to panic if an evenly tan or brown, velvety spot appears on the face, back of the hands, or other location on the trunk or extremities. If the presence of an age spot is getting you down and you want to eradicate it, see a dermatologist. If it is irregular and you are not sure what it is, see a dermatologist. He or she will be very impressed when you say that 8 syllable tongue twister “seborrheic keratosis“.
-Madeline Krauss, M.D.