Thanks to education and awareness about skin cancer, more people are taking heed of skin growths and changes and visiting their dermatologists. A spot or mole on the body can be a cause for concern. A seborrheic keratosis is one such type of skin growth that is actually benign but may cause concern due to its appearance. 
Seborrheic keratoses, or SKs, are one of the most common noncancerous skin growths, says The Mayo Clinic. Although anyone can get them, they are more common in middle-aged to older adults. Also known as basal cell papilloma, senile warts or barnacles, these growths form as a common sign of skin aging, according to DermNet New Zealand. 
The American Academy of Dermatology says a seborrheic keratosis may seem worrisome because it can look like a wart, a pre-cancerous skin growth or even skin cancer. However, despite their appearance, SKs are harmless.

How do SKs form?
Seborrheic means “greasy” and keratosis means “thickening of the skin.” Despite the name, SKs are not known to be caused by an abundance of sebum in the skin, nor are they limited to areas of increased oil production. The exact cause of SKs isn’t known, but some doctors feel that an overproduction of skin cells can cause a thickening of the skin in certain areas. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology offers that SKs are most likely hereditary, and they often are found on the trunk of the body and where the face meets the scalp. Sometimes seborrheic keratoses may erupt during pregnancy, following hormone replacement therapy or as a result of other medical problems.

Appearance of SKs
Some of these growths have a warty, rough surface, while others look like dabs of warm, brown candle wax on the skin. ADA says they can range in color from white to black, but most are tan or brown. The appearance of SKs may change as one ages, and it is even possible for them to fall off naturally over time. The Mayo Clinic says that, unless changes include becoming sore or bleeding without healing, there’s little need to act. SKs may form singularly, but often they appear in groups. 

Cancer risk?
SKs have no relationship to skin cancer and do not pose a risk to one’s health. Unlike moles, they will not turn into melanoma. The superficial nature of SKs mean they can become irritated by clothing and grow. 

Unless a seborrheic keratosis is in an area that causes constant irritation, there is really no need to seek treatment. However, dermatologists can remove them quite easily if they are unsightly or uncomfortable. A topical anesthetic, cryosurgery or laser therapy is possible. Generally little scarring is produced, offers AOCD.
Although SKs are harmless, their appearance may be similar to skin conditions that are not. Those who are unsure about changes to the skin should always seek the help of a licensed dermatologist.