Old-age warts (verruca seborrhoica or verruca senilis) are benign, shallow skin contusions. They are very common, particularly in older people (over 50 years). They increase with age. At the age of 30, individuals typically have a few. From the age of 60 practically everyone has several old age warts. The older one gets, the more appear. Some have only a few, others have hundreds. They are much less common in individuals with pigmented skin.

How do old-age warts look like?

Old-age warts can have various shapes and colors. In the starting it is often a skin-colored, yellow-brown, gray-brown spot with a rough, velvety surface. Later they end up being thicker and larger, with a warty (cauliflower-like, bumpy, crumbly) surface. In some cases they are brown or black colored. They appear they are on top of the skin and are easy to scratch, however they are strongly connected to the skin. The typical size is 0.5 to 1 cm, but they can end up being centimeters large.

They can happen anywhere on the body, with the exception of palms and soles and lips. They are most common on the chest, the back, the face (specifically with the temples) and the neck.

Old-age warts need to not be confused with sunspots or liver areas (lentigo senilis). These are flat, uniform brown areas on the face, hands, shoulders and décolleté, locations that are most exposed to the sun.

How do old-age warts develop?

Unlike common warts brought on by a virus (the human papillomavirus or HPV) and that are extremely infectious, aging warts are not triggered by a virus and are not infectious.

It is unknowned exactly what causes old-age warts. At this moment it is assumed that over the years in some skin cells of the body a ‘weaving mistake’ (mutation) occurs so that they unexpectedly start to share faster and form a wart. Possibly there is a hereditary aspect with it, which describes why they happen more in some households.

They can occur anywhere, both on sunlight and on skin that has actually seldom been exposed to sunlight. Yet there is a suspicion that individuals who have actually been exposed to the sun in the past have a higher chance of establishing (numerous) old-age warts than others.

How are old-age warts dealt with?

Old-age warts are, as stated, innocent and should not be dealt with or eliminated. However they do not disappear on their own and they normally grow gradually. Optionally, you can have them removed for cosmetic factors, because they become so big that they end up being annoying or since they aggravate.

The dermatologist can scrape them away with a sharp spoon (curette), freeze, burn away or cut away. It is not advised to scratch the warts yourself. Injuries can establish that will infect. Treatment with ointment or other anti-wrinkles like staining liquid, wartner or wart plasters do not assist.

Old-age warts are not harmful and can not become malignant. If you are uncertain whether it is old-age warts and not a deadly skin cancer, consult your doctor or a dermatologist.