by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Keratoacanthoma is a skin growth that often resembles squamous cell carcinoma, however, it is usually benign. They usually grow on areas with previous trauma or injury and are more common in light-skinned people who have had increased exposure to the sun. They are more common in men than in women and are usually found on the face although they can grow on the
backs of the hands and forearms as well.

Stages of Keratoacanthoma

Keratoacanthoma appears as a small, round, skin-colored or red bump. It grows rapidly for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. It develops into a smooth, dome shaped growth. Normally there is a center, or plug, of keratin. If the plug comes out, a large hole will remain in the center of the growth.

During the second stage, the growth stays stable, remaining unchanged for anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks or longer.

In the third stage, the growth slowly disappears. This stage usually takes 4 to 6 months but can take up to a year and can leave scarring which looks like puckered skin.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Keratoacanthoma goes away on its own and treatment is not necessary, however, because it closely resembles sqaumous cell carcinoma and can rarely progress to cancer, your doctor may recommend treatment. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology indicates several treatment options:

  • Surgical excision
    - removal of the lesion is often the first line of treatment. However, if there are several growths, if the location of the growth isn't conducive to excision or if you are not willing/able to have surgery, there are other options.

  • Electrodessication and curettage - scraping the lesion until it is completely removed.

  • Topical creams - The topical cream 5-fluorouracil is applied three times each day for anywhere from one to six weeks.

  • Injections - The same medication as in the creams, 5-flourouracil is injected into the site and can diminish the growth

  • Medication - Oral medications, isotretinoin and acitretin, have been used to treat those with multiple growths.

For large or recurrent growths, other treatments, such as Mohs surgery or radiation may be recommended.


Just as with other non-melanoma skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma, your risk of developing skin cancer is increased. Making sure you complete monthly self-examinations and annual visits to your dermatologist are important. Skin cancer survival rates are extremely high when detected and treated early.


"Keratoacanthoma," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, American Osteopathic College of Dermatology

"Keratoacanthoma - Patient Information Leaflet," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, British Association of Dermatologists

"Keratoacanthoma Treatment and Management," Date Unknown, Tsu-Yi Chuang, M.D. MedScape Reference

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.