Appearance of Seborrheic Keratosis or ‘Age Spots’ in Older Adults

Dr. Michelle Henry of Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, and a paid spokesperson for Aclaris Therapeutics, talks about seborrheic keratoses (or S-KS for short), what they are and what you can do about them.

Seborrheic keratosis is one of the most common non-cancerous skin growths seen on older adults and it usually appears on the face, chest, shoulders or back. It has a waxy, scaly, and are sometimes slightly elevated in appearance. These don’t become cancerous, but they can look like skin cancer.

Dr. Michelle Henry is a, board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. She is currently a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. She practices Mohs micrographic surgery, laser surgery, and cosmetic surgery.

Dr. Henry has been featured in many magazine and newspaper publications, including Instyle, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Allure, Woman’s Day, Essence, Better Homes and Gardens, Health, Black Enterprise, Beauty in the Bag, Plastic Surgery Practice and Newsday.  

She has been a repeat guest speaker on SirusXM Satellite Radio. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for Laser Medicine, and American College of Mohs Surgery. She serves on the Education Committee of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

Her treatment philosophy is to provide holistic care while utilizing the latest techniques and scientific data.


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us. We’re going to talk today about skin growth with unsightly skin growths known as barnacles of aging and that can appear in some highly visible location such as your face and your neck. Well here on the program to explain what these barnacles actually are and what you can do about them is dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry. Welcome to the program Doctor.

Dr. Michelle Henry: Thank you for having me. So these barnacles otherwise called SK’s or Seborrheic Keratosis are benign growths and we actually see them in 83 million Americans and they can be either raised or flat. We often call them age spots or the barnacles of life and they’re associated with aging. When you see them, they’re a little bit raised, they can be a touch waxy and their color can range from flesh color to pink to brown or black. And I see them in both of male and female patients often in highly visible areas like the face the neck or the chest. And although I treat tons of them in my office, as dermatologists we don’t know exactly what causes them. We know that we see them more in the fourth and fifth decade, that their incidence increases with age, we also know that there’s a strong hereditary component. So oftentimes my patients that are covered will say “You know, my mom had this or my dad had this.”

Neal: Now are these moles what we’re talking about is something different?

Dr Henry: So they’re absolutely not moles. So they have zero malignant potential. They are superficial benign growths on the skin, have zero malignant potential and they will not affect your health overall adversely.

Neal: So they don’t adversely affect your health overall, but what about some of the psychological effects being on your face, your neck, these highly visible places?

Dr Henry: So I find in my practice exactly what you said, that when they’re on the face, the neck, the legs, that my patients want them removed for cosmetic reasons.

Neal: Are they easily removed and treated or is it a complicated process?

Dr Henry: So we’ve been treating them for decades and until recently, our only treatments were to either burn them or freeze them and my patients tend to find that a bit uncomfortable. As you know, I’m here with ESKATA® and ESKATA® is a 40% hydrogen peroxide solution with an indication for treating raised SK’s and it’s actually the first and only FDA-approved treatment for raised SK’s. It would be applied in a doctor’s office, so by a credentialed medical professional using a single-use soft pen like applicator. Now with all procedures, this is not for everyone. The most common side effects include itching, stinging, redness, swelling sometimes crusting. However, more severe reactions have been reported so it’s really important that you find a provider that you trust for this treatment.

Neal: Is ESKATA® effective regardless of complexion?

Dr Henry: So you can use it on all skin types as long as they’re raised Seborrheic Keratosis.

Neal: Any other maybe side-effects that someone would want to talk about as far as maybe getting into your eyes or accidentally ingesting it?

Dr Henry: So they’re not indicated to be used on the eyes or you don’t want to ingest it and that’s the importance of going to a trained medical professional. When used appropriately, again the most common side effects are itching, stinging, maybe a little crusting and a trained professional will know how to make sure that you avoid the more severe potential reactions.

Neal: Is it readily available everywhere as far as insurance is concerned?

Dr Henry: So this is a cosmetic procedure, again does not affect your overall health, so it is a cosmetic procedure which is typically out of  pocket and if you go to you can find out more information about the procedure. You can also find providers in your area that offer this procedure.

Neal: Dr. Michelle Henry, thank you so much for joining us on the program today. And once again, would you give us that website where we can go and learn more about it?

Dr Henry: So that website is and on this website, you can find full important safety information as well as full patient information.

Neal: Great. Well thank you for joining us on the program today, it’s been a pleasure.

Dr Henry: You’re welcome, thank you for having me.


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