Family · Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday – Keratosis

Day 1

So Dave has developed a keratosis on his face. A seborrheic keratosis is a type of skin growth that develops in the outer layer of the skin. Multiplying epidermal cells that enclose an excessive discharge of sebum forms the growth (see my post about EO’s and skin for a diagram). It is harmless but sometimes unattractive. Growths start out as small, rough areas, but over time, they can develop a thick, wart-like surface. They can also look waxy and have slightly raised surfaces that look “pasted on”. Growths are usually brown, but they can range in color from white to black. It can be difficult to distinguish between harmless and dangerous growths. Something that looks like seborrheic keratosis could actually be melanoma. So it’s important to check with your doctor if it’s:

  • A new growth
  • A change in appearance of an existing growth
  • Only one growth (seborrheic keratosis often causes several)
  • A growth that has an unusual color (purple, blue, or reddish-black)
  • A growth that has borders that are irregular (blurred or jagged)
  • A growth is irritated or painful


I had a keratosis a few years ago on my shin (it was skin colored, but darker and raised). My doctor said she could remove it, but it was harmless. I almost had it removed because I was constantly nicking it when I shaved. Then it just flattened out on its own, a slight skin discoloration and that’s all that verifies that its still there. Dave was experiencing the same problem with the growth on his face. It grew rather quickly and was beginning to interfere with shaving, so he made an appointment with his dermatologist. She confirmed the fact that it was a keratosis (a seborrheic keratosis) and benign. There is some evidence that skin exposed to the sun is more likely to develop a seborrheic keratosis. However, growths also appear on skin that is usually covered up when people go outdoors. This did not prevent his dermatologist from giving him another lecture (which he always ignores) on the importance of sunscreen. She offered to remove it because it was bothering him, and he accepted. She froze it and said that it would scab over and dry up in a few days.  A few hours after he returned home it began to swell and then he noticed a bluish-green blur in his field of vision in the eye on the side of his face where the keratosis was. We assumed that it was due to the swelling or the freezing process.


Day 2

The blurred vision is still a problem, so we called the doctor’s office. They had never heard of such a reaction to the freezing process before and had no idea what to do about it (real helpful). I’ve decided that if it doesn’t better by the time the swelling goes down that he is going to have to see our family doctor or an eye doctor about it.


Day 3

My research has shown that there is a facial nerve with branches that range across the cheek and extend to the outer edge of the eye. I surmise that the freezing process or the subsequent swelling may have affected that nerve and therefor his eye.


Day 5

Dave’s mom, who is an RN, agrees with my assessment but concurs that if it’s not better in a few days he should see a doctor. He has been resting his eye (with an eye patch) all weekend and the swelling around the keratosis has dissipated and the blurry vision seems to be diminishing as well. The keratosis now has shrunken to the size of a pea and has scabbed over. If he survives all of my pirate jokes (One-eyed Willy, Eye Patch Pete, and my favorite El Capitan Uno Ojo [Captain One Eye]) I think he is going to be fine.


Day 6

It is now Monday and the good news is the keratosis has been reduced to a tiny scab, however the blurry vision is still present.   We decided a trip to the eye doctor is necessary. We made an appointment for 2:30 this afternoon.


Later on Day 6

Good news: the eye problem has nothing to do with the keratosis removal. It was merely a coincidence. Bad news: Dave has Central Serous Retinopathy. It is usually a minor temporary condition, however there is no treatment for it (other than to reduce stress, Ha Ha). But I think that’s going to be another post entirely. I think the “takeaway” from this experience is: If you have a keratosis and want to have it removed don’t worry about going blind in the process.


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