This is a skin condition that is characterized by non-cancerous growths whose origin is the keratinocytes. The keratinocytes are cells that make up 95% of the epidermis, a part of the skin found even on the scalp. They are also referred to as basal cells. The primary function of the cells is to act as a barrier against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Upon an infection of the epidermis, the cells start secreting chemicals which attract the body’s defenses in the form of leucocytes to the region of infection. When someone is suffering from seborrheic keratosis the keratinocytes cause benign growths on the skin which can appear in various colors. The growths tend to be round or oval and even have the appearance of scab formed on healing wounds. The condition leads to wart like scabs that exhibit a paste on appearance. The spots caused by the condition are harmless and are more common with old people. This is why they are sometimes referred to as the barnacles that form as a result of old age. Other common names that refer to the condition include senile warts, brown warts or basal cell papilloma.
On the onset of the condition the warts are slightly raised skin colored or brown spots. As seborrheic keratosis progresses the spots thicken and expend to take on a rough texture. The spots finally turn black. The progress exhibited by the skin lesions is sometimes confused with the melanoma, a common skin cancer. Unlike seborrheic dermatitis the spots are not limited to upper body i.e. mid-face, scalp, upper back and chest. The spots are also found on the arms and lower body. The condition has a number of variations. Solar lentigines is marked by flat brown spots found on areas of the body that are usually exposed to the sun. Many small dry grey spots found on the legs and feet characterize stucco keratoses. Several brown warts that form on the neck chest and face regions characterize dermatosis papulosa nigra. Therefore the type of seborrheic keratosis that affects the scalp is the Dermatosis papulosa variant.
The condition has a number of treatments which include curettage and cautery, cyrotherapy and laser surgery. In addition to these treatments which involve the physical removal of the growths, herbal treatments are also available. One of the main reasons for remove a seborrheic keratosis is that the scabrous might cause a certain level of physical discomfort. The other reason is that a physician may recommend the removal of a growth when there is uncertainty in the diagnosis of the condition. Cyrotherapy involves the use of liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze the growth killing the cells in it. The dead cells then form a scab that peels off after 10 days. Curettage and cautery involves the use of a tiny surgical spoon, the curette, to physically scoop out the growth which is then followed by the cauterization of the wound to stop blood flow. Before any of these procedures can be carried out to treat benign growths on the scalp, the head has to be shaved clean.