Have you noticed any new skin growths? You may be dealing with keratosis. This skin condition comes in two forms: seborrheic and actinic, and while both can be unsightly or irritating, one is more dangerous than the other.

In both cases, you may want or need to have the growth removed. Depending on the type, your prognosis could range from a totally benign patch of skin to later development of skin cancer. That’s why it’s so important to work with a trusted dermatologist. They will be able to help you decide on your next steps.

Let’s take look at the major differences between the two types, as well as common treatments.

Seborrheic Keratosis

The less concerning of the two keratosis, seborrheic growths are noncancerous, heredity growths that develop with age. They often appear as a black, brown, or light patch of skin that looks waxy, scaly, and raised on the scalp, face and trunk. Typically, they’ll be round or oval-shaped and can range in size to very small to up to several inches across.

Seborrheic keratosis can be removed in much the same way that a wart can be be removed. Typical treatments include:

  • Cryosurgery, or freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen
  • Ablation with a laser
  • Curettage, where your dermatologist will numb the area, then use a scalpel to remove the keratosis
  • A prescription 40% hydrogen peroxide solution
  • Electrocautery, which involves using electricity to destroy the growth

While seborrheic keratosis removal isn’t necessary, they can be irritating if they develop in an area that experiences a lot of friction, like underneath clothing.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is certainly a cause for more concern as they are precancerous. Caused by years of sun exposure, these appear as scaly patches that can be found on areas that are more prone to sunburn: ears, scalp, neck, face, and the backs of your hands. They can take years to develop, slowly growing in size to a slightly raised bump that can have a wartlike surface. They’re typically pink, red, or brown, and crusty. They are harder to treat.

Left untreated, some actinic keratosis can eventually develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Once your dermatologist determines that your growth is an actinic keratosis, they’ll treat the keratosis with cryotherapy, curettage, or photo dynamic therapy. Photo dynamic therapy (PDT) or the blue light treatment is a procedure that uses a light-sensitive chemical applied to the skin and exposed to light that destroys the keratosis.This is done in your dermatologist office.

If your skin suddenly develops new growths, it’s important to talk to your dermatologist. They can diagnose the specific kind of keratosis you’re dealing with, along with treatment plans that can include removal.