Small brown or flesh-colored spots on your skin are not always moles. A common skin lesion called seborrheic keratosis, or SK for short, often resembles a mole or wart but is something else entirely. Although SKs are not usually a medical concern, they can be unsightly and many people would like to get rid of them. Fortunately, there is an FDA-approved treatment called ESKATA that can remove SKs from your skin.
What is seborrheic keratosis?
Unlike other skin growths such as actinic keratosis and skin cancer, seborrheic keratosis is harmless. SKs are sometimes called the “barnacles of aging” because they tend to show up with age. They can be brown, black or flesh-colored and are usually rough like sandpaper. Most people get them on areas of their skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the back, chest, neck and scalp.
People who have developed one SK are more likely to develop more in the future. Wearing sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, staying out of tanning beds, and seeking shade are some of the best ways to prevent SKs from showing up on your skin down the road.
When should you see a board-certified dermatologist?
Even though seborrheic keratosis is not a medical concern, it can be confused with more harmful skin lesions, such as actinic keratosis (AK) and skin cancer. For this reason, it is crucial that you see a board-certified dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations. In the case of precancerous or cancerous growths, early treatment is key to a successful outcome.
How are SKs treated?
If your dermatologist diagnoses the brown, scaly spot on your skin as seborrheic keratosis, there is now an FDA-approved in-office treatment called ESKATA that can cause your SK to fall off within one to two weeks after treatment. ESKATA, which is a 40 percent hydrogen peroxide gel, is applied directly to the skin. Most people need one to two treatments for optimal results. Within the next few days, you should notice a scab forming at the treatment site. It usually takes one to two weeks for the scab to fall off (do not pick at it!) and leave behind smooth, pink skin. Over time, that spot should return to its natural skin color, without the scaly SK growth.
Why should you treat SKs?
First of all, they are ugly, itchy, and rough on the skin. They grow rapidly. The bigger they are, the more treatments it takes to remove them. It’s best to catch them when they are small. Although they are not dangerous, SKs can be confused with cancers such as melanoma or a pigmented basal cell carcinoma. For this reason, you should have them diagnosed by a dermatologist before treatment.
What are the risks of ESKATA treatment of SKs?
As with any skin treatment, there is a risk of scarring and skin color changes after using ESKATA. You can minimize these risks by allowing your scabs to fall off on their own, rather than picking at them. Darker skin types have a higher chance of being left with a dark or light spot in the area where the SK was. Lighter skin types usually have no scarring or marks four to six weeks after treatment.
Because this treatment is currently only available through your doctor, he or she can discuss your specific treatment recommendations and guidelines with you during your appointment. Virtually anyone who has seborrheic keratosis can be a good candidate for ESKATA, as long as your dermatologist as ruled out other more serious possibilities.
If you find an abnormal spot on your skin, it is best to have it looked at by an experienced physician who can provide an accurate diagnosis. If the rough, brown spot on your skin is SK, the goods news is that FDA-approved ESKATA offers a relatively quick and easy solution.