A keratosis is a small growth on the surface of the skin. One type is known as an actinic keratosis, or solar keratosis, which is rough or scaly in texture and may be an early sign of skin cancer. Seborrheic keratoses are waxy in texture and benign.
An actinic keratosis appears as a small, dry or scaly patch of skin. These are usually between 2 to 6 millimeters in diameter. The patch of skin may be slightly red or flaky in appearance and sometimes painful to touch. This type of keratosis usually appears in adults after many years of sun exposure. They often manifest alongside other symptoms of sun damage, such as wrinkles and superficial blood vessels. Actinic keratoses are usually benign, but are noted as an early symptom in many cases of squamous cell carcinoma. If an actinic keratosis is suspected, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Seborrheic keratoses take the appearance of brown, black or tan growths on the chest, shoulders back or face. These keratoses are small, waxy in texture and slightly elevated. They are hereditary and generally benign. There is usually no need to have a Seborrheic keratosis removed other than for cosmetic preference; however, they can cause irritation from rubbing against clothing in some cases.