Seborrhoeic Keratosis vs Skin Tags

Skin imperfections are a pain. They can be unsightly, irritable and difficult to get rid of it. However, many of them don't pose a threat to your general health.

In this blog, we're going to take a look at two common skin imperfections: seborrhoeic keratosis and skin tags. On the face of it, both imperfections are pretty similar. However, the causes of them tend to be a little different. We'll explain the differences between them, the causes, the symptoms, and how to treat them.

Let's start with that long word you probably don't know how to pronounce: seborrhoeic keratoses.

What is seborrhoeic keratosis?

Seborrhoeic (seb-or-ee-ik) keratoses (ker-uh-toe-sees) are small discoloured spots that appear on your skin. They're also known as seborrhoeic warts, but we're going to refer to them as SK. That's a little easier for us to type!

They are normally brown or black and can range in size, but typically don't get much bigger than around 2cm - or the width of your middle finger.

The image here shows two examples of SK. The first image is a lightly-coloured wart on a patient's cheek. The second image is a larger, browner, more protruding SK on a patient's skin. You can see how they can differ in size and colour.


seborrheic keratosis

What causes seborrheic keratoses?

It is not known what causes SK.

However, we do know that it is more common amongst older people - particularly for over 50s. It has also been suggested that exposure to sunlight can cause SK, though studies on this topic have delivered mixed results.

They're believed to be a hereditary condition, so if your parents suffer from SK then there's a higher chance that you will too.

Do SK have any symptoms?

There are a few mild symptoms associated with SK, although many people don't get any symptoms at all.

They may get itchy and suffer from soreness. Larger ones may also catch against clothing and irritate you.

But the main issue with SK is their appearance - particularly if they sprout up in visible places around your body. People don't like the look of them, and often take steps to get them removed.

Are SK the same as skin tags?

SK are similar to skin tags in a few ways. Firstly, they are similar in appearance. They're both small brown spots on the skin that look like moles or warts. Despite the fact that both are benign tumours, they are both harmless. Also, neither are contagious.

The main way you can tell the difference between the two is that skin tags tend to 'hang' off the skin a little more than SK. The image below shows an SK on the left, and a skin tag on the right. You may notice how a skin tag protrudes from the skin a little more than an SK.


seborrheic keratosis vs skin tags


But the main difference between SK and skin tags is the cause of them.

Doctors are unsure of the root cause of SK. They tend to be more common in over 50s, while it has been suggested than overexposure to sunlight can lead to SK. But neither of these reasons fully explain their appearance. We simply don't fully know why some people see SK on their skin, and others don't.

Skin tags are thought to be hereditary, and become more frequent as you get older. However, their main cause is believed to be skin rubbing against skin. This is because they often appear in creases and folds around your body.

Seborrhoeic keratosis removal

Seborrhoeic keratoses are harmless and often have no symptoms at all. Although there is no strict medical necessity for treating SK, many people choose to get them removed anyway. This is because they're so unsightly; particularly if they appear in a visible part of your skin. They can also cause irritation and itching.

The safest and most effective way of removing SK or similar conditions is through cryotherapy. This basically involves freezing the target area of skin with a small blast of liquid nitrogen. After this process, your body's natural processes will take over. The skin imperfection will then start to scab over, at which point it's simply a case of waiting for the scab to heal and the imperfection to disappear.

Skin tag removal

Cryotherapy is also the best way of removing skin tags. The treatment is quick, painless and costs just €75 for one visit.

At Dundrum Cosmetic Clinic, we use the CryoPen for the removal of skin tags, seborrhoeic keratoses and other blemishes. This can often be performed in a matter of seconds, and smaller imperfections should only take one treatment to be removed. The CryoPen treatment starts from just €75 for a single visit.

You can book your skin tag removal by filling out our contact form.