The term barnacle refers to a condition known as seborrheic keratosis, where large, benign spots and mole-like growths appear on the body. Usually the result of genetics and old age, there is no way to prevent these dark spots from appearing on your skin as you advance in age. Since they are basically harmless, you can leave them be. If you feel self conscious about your barnacles, your doctor can talk to you about some of your options for skincare and removal.
Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist when you note the appearance of new growths on your body. While barnacles are completely benign, you may mistake a growth or mole for a barnacle when it could be potentially cancerous. Your dermatologist can examine new growths and order biopsies should she feel concerned about them. Ensure that you make an appointment and continue your yearly checkups as usual.
Wear smooth clothes and avoid jewelry that can irritate your barnacles, as irritation can actually make barnacles grow, warns the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. You can apply moisturizing creams to the barnacles if they feel itchy or uncomfortable, as they can often feel dry.
Talk to your health care provider about your treatment options. You can leave barnacles alone if they aren't bothering you, but if they crack, bleed and irritate you, they can be frozen, much like a wart. Cryosurgery, or freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen, works best on smaller, thinner growths, notes MayoClinic.com. It's an effective procedure that is minimally invasive.
Ask your doctor about the possibility of using electrosurgery and curettage to get rid of the barnacles, suggests the American Academy of Dermatology. During this treatment, an electric current is passed through the barnacle to cauterize blood flow. The growth is then scraped or cut from the skin and discarded. This may be more effective for larger barnacles, but it may leave you susceptible to later scarring.
Cover your barnacles with makeup if you feel embarrassed about their appearance. Remember that barnacles are not harmful in any way, and simply a process of aging, without a known cause. They are not contagious. Dabbing on a concealer a few shades lighter than your natural skin tone can help mask the darkness of the barnacles so you can feel more confident about your appearance.