I Use Fingernail Surgery to Remove My Seborrheic Keratoses

This feature requires the newest version of Flash. You can download it here.

If you are a dermatologist or a pathologist who makes money from the surgical removal of benign skin blemishes, please stop reading, watching, or listening right now. For the rest of you, seborrheic keratoses are among the most common skin lesions of human beings. This is what they look like:

Almost everyone gets some sooner or later, especially as one ages. Seb keratoses are of no clinical significance unless one is annoyed by their presence. I have grown them for years and I don't much like them on my skin. I used to see dermatologists and surgeons who kindly obliged by removing them surgically. But that cost money, hurt a little, and left scars. So, now I take my seb keratoses off while they are still small with my fingernails, usually the one on the third finger of my right hand. Am I kidding you? No. Is it dangerous? I have done it a hundred times or more without any trouble. Sure, there is a little bleeding if you do it right. But it stops quickly. And the superficial wound could become infected "post-op" so you might put a little antibiotic ointment and a tiny bandage on it. I don't bother and mine never have gotten infected.

What if you are trying to scrape off a cancer or something else of actual clinical importance? I am a pathologist so I can use clinical judgment. However, clinically important lesions like basal or squamous call carcinomas or malignant melanomas won't scrape off with a judiciously applied fingernail, nor will nevi nor neurofibromas nor dermatofibromas. If your lesion resists your fingernail, stop and see some real doctor, if you want it removed. Might an actual seb keratosis become malignant? Never ever. Here is the result of one of my self-surgeries. Look for the scar:

There isn't any scar. Isn't that nice?

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. George Lundberg, Editor in Chief of MedGenMed.

Sign Up now for a free monthly email that brings you the top features from MedGenMed.

Readers are encouraged to respond to George Lundberg, MD, Editor of MedGenMed, for the editor's eyes only or for possible publication via email:


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.