This noncancerous skin growth is often confused with melanoma, due to its similar visual characteristics. Seborrheic keratosis defines a common skin disorder that produces a pale, brown, or black lesion on the surface of the skin, with a “pasted on” look. Also known as “seborrheic warts” or “basal cell papilloma,” this condition affects the skin on the face, upper and lower back, as well as the shoulders, and chest.
Most cases occur in people who are middle-aged or older, with 75-percent of individuals over the age of 75-years old, affected by the skin condition. It’s important to note that seborrheic keratosis is not contagious and you can’t contract the disorder from contact with other people’s lesions. Some growths may take on a wart-like appearance, while others may resemble drops of candle wax on the surface of the skin.
Here are eight causes of seborrheic keratosis, if you notice any of the signs of the disorder on your skin, contact a dermatologist for an assessment and diagnosis.
1. Over Exposure to Sunlight UV Rays
Over-exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays is the leading cause of seborrheic keratosis. Sunlight penetrates deep into the skin, causing sunburn to unprotected areas. A sunburn causes cellular damage, affecting the genetic material in skin cells. Changes to the cells may result in the development of seborrheic keratosis, as well as aggressive forms of skin cancer, such as melanoma.
However, it’s critical to note that seborrheic keratosis lesions are not cancerous. In rare cases, the skin disorder may develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC,) if affected individuals continue to receive sunburns to the area with seborrheic keratosis lesions.
It’s relatively easy to confuse seborrheic keratosis with melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer that kills almost 10,000 Americans every year. The best way to ensure you don’t irritate your lesions and avoid the risk of developing skin cancer is to cover up during peak sun hours between 10 AM and 3 PM. If you do have to go out in the sun, make sure you choose a sunblock with an SPF of 50 or more.