Actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis , is a scaly or crusty bump that arises on the skin surface. The base may be light or dark, tan, pink, red, a combination of these, or the same color as the skin. The scale or crust is horny, dry, and rough, and is often recognized by touch rather than sight. Occasionally, it itches or produces a pricking or tender sensation.
Actinic keratosis can be the first step in the development of skin cancer, and, therefore, is considered a pre-cancerous skin condition . The presence of actinic keratoses indicates that sun damage has occurred and that any kind of skin cancer can develop.
Keratoses occur after prolonged exposure to the sun's radiation. The following factors contribute to their formation:
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of actinic keratosis include:
Patches or lesions caused by actinic keratosis usually are 1 inch or less in diameter and primarily are found on areas exposed to the sun, including your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp and neck. There may be a single lesion or more. Later, lesions can develop a hard, wart-like surface.
If you have a skin lesion that persists, grows or bleeds, see your doctor.
A specialist in skin conditions, called a dermatologist, can recognize actinic keratoses during a routine skin exam. AKs that are larger and very thick need to be removed through a procedure called a biopsy. The doctor will numb the area, then cut the growth from the skin. The growth is then examined under a microscope for abnormalities. Any skin growth that undergoes a change in appearance, such as bleeding or rapid growth, should be examined. It is important to diagnose actinic keratoses in the early stages, before they can become cancerous.
Medical Treatment- All patches require treatment to prevent skin cancer. Your doctor may use:
Medication- Your doctor may use:
Protect yourself against direct sun exposure. When outdoors, wear a hat and protective clothing. Use sunscreen lotions and creams, and reapply them often during prolonged exposure.
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