Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis (AK) is skin damage caused by excessive exposure to sun over a period of years. The condition causes skin to become rough, dry and scaly.

About Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is one of the most common skin conditions that lead patients to see their dermatologist.

Once a patch of actinic keratosis develops, it is common for multiple patches of actinic keratosis to continue to form. Left untreated, these slow growing patches can eventually turn into squamous cell carcinoma – skin cancer.

Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis, also called solar keratosis, typically develops on areas of the skin that receive the most sun exposure, including: the face, lips, top of the ear, scalp, hands, arms and back of the neck.

Changes in the texture of the skin are often the only sign of actinic keratosis. Patches of dry, rough skin or red, raised bumps characterize the condition.

Actinic keratosis can also appear as thick brown patches, pointy horn-type growths, or white scaly patches on the lips. Some individuals experience a burning or itching sensation in the affected area, while others have no symptoms other than the skin changes.

The rough skin sometimes flakes off and becoming smooth, only to reappear later. Sun exposure will hasten the return of AK.

Causes of Actinic Keratosis

Damage from the UV rays of the sun is the cause of actinic keratosis.

Without proper sun protection, skin that is exposed to the sun becomes injured over the years. This damage continues to build until AK develops.

Actinic keratosis is most common in patients who:

Diagnosis & Treatment of Actinic Keratosis

Suspicious areas may be biopsied in the dermatology clinic to rule out skin cancer, and areas of actinic keratosis are treated by:

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