What Are Actinic Keratoses? Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options


Also known as solar keratoses, actinic keratoses are small, rough patches of skin that develop as a result of sun damage. Typically appearing on the scalp, ears, and back of the hands and forearms, this condition usually affects people over the age of 40. Though not all actinic keratoses require treatment, it is important to see a doctor to evaluate your skin and determine if your actinic keratoses should be treated to prevent a more serious condition such as squamous cell carcinoma.

If you have developed this condition due to long-term exposure to the sun, here are some signs that may point to actinic keratosis:

• Red or pink scaly patches on the skin

• Dry or scaly skin

• Itching or burning skin

• Growth of new skin lesions

• Painful spots

Actinic Keratosis Treatment Options

Actinic Keratosis (plural, Keratoses) is a scaly or crusty growth that occurs on the skin. It is caused by long-term sun exposure. This growth can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun such as the face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, arms and back of hands. The top layer of the growth may be sandpapery when touched or feel like velvet. There may be one growth or several that form together in an area.

Actinic Keratosis may occur in fair-skinned people but is more common in those who have naturally darker complexions such as Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans.[1] When left untreated Actinic Keratosis can progress to squamous cell carcinoma which is a type of skin cancer.

Actinic keratoses are classified into three types: hypertrophic (thick), atrophic (thin) and exophytic (raised). These lesions occur most commonly in fair-skinned people with a history of chronic sun exposure. Risk factors include age over 40 years and male gender.[2]

Skin changes caused by actinic keratosis may look like other skin conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis

Actinic Keratoses (AK) are pre-cancerous skin growths that can lead to squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer. Actinic keratosis is often caused by sun damage, but it may also be caused by spending time in tanning beds.

Fair-skinned people are more likely to develop actinic keratosis than people with darker complexions. The condition is extremely common and occurs on areas of the body that receive a lot of sun exposure, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, forearms and hands. Actinic keratoses usually appear in people over 40 years old. It can affect younger people who have had serious sunburns or have spent a lot of time in tanning beds.

Actinic keratosis can be treated with cryotherapy (freezing), prescription creams or oral medication. In some cases it will go away without treatment.

The best way to prevent actinic keratosis from developing is to limit sun exposure, use sunscreen regularly and avoid tanning beds.

Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a skin condition caused by the effects of too much sun exposure. It affects over 58 million Americans and is characterized by rough, scaly spots on the skin that are red or brownish in color. These spots are most common among people with fair skin, blue eyes and blond or red hair. The more sun exposure a person has, the more likely they are to develop AKs. However, actinic keratoses can occur in anyone.

Actinic keratoses are considered precancerous because about 10% of them will eventually turn into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a type of skin cancer that spreads rapidly.

The cause of actinic keratosis is long term, cumulative exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays – either from natural sunlight or artificial sources such as tanning beds. Most cases of AK appear on areas frequently exposed to the sun: face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, backs of hands and forearms.

The main concern with AKs is that they can become malignant if not treated on time. Because it’s difficult for doctors to distinguish between SCC and AK without a biopsy, people with AK should have them examined periodically by their dermatologist. If your dermat

Actinic Keratoses Definition:

Actinic keratoses (AK), also known as solar keratoses, are rough scaly lesions often seen on sun-exposed areas of the skin. They may be tan, pink, red, or the same color as the surrounding skin. They often range in size from a small spot to a large patch and can occur anywhere on the body.

AKs are related to ultraviolet (UV) exposure. AKs are considered to be pre-cancerous lesions and may progress to squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.

People who have had many AKs or who have AKs that do not respond readily to treatment are at an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. Although they usually appear in older people, they can affect anyone who has spent long periods in sunlight or used a tanning booth.

The likelihood of having these growths increases with age and lifetime sun exposure. More than half of people over age 65 have AKs somewhere on their bodies. While AKs are most common on people with fair skin, they can occur in darker-skinned individuals as well.

If you see scaling or scaly patches on your skin, you may have actinic keratosis (AK). These growths are sometimes called solar keratoses because they’re caused by sun exposure. They can be precancerous.

AKs are common. If you have fair skin, light hair and blue eyes, you’re more likely to get them. Anyone can get AKs, including people with darker skin.

If you don’t treat AKs, there’s a small chance they’ll turn into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a type of skin cancer. There also is a link between AK and basal cell carcinoma (BCC), another form of skin cancer.

What causes actinic keratosis?

The main cause of AKs is sun exposure and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) light, such as tanning beds and sun lamps. The way in which the immune system responds to this damage may also play a role in developing AKs.

A history of serious sunburn may increase the risk of developing AKs later in life.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors and expose your skin to UV light without protection, like sunscreen, you might develop AKs. People who work outside are at increased risk for

Actinic keratosis (AK) is a chronic skin condition characterised by the development of thick, scaly or crusty patches on the skin. AK is caused by long-term sun exposure and affects areas of skin exposed to the sun. AK can occur on any area of skin that has had prolonged sun exposure but is most common on the face, ears, scalp, neck, lips and backs of hands.

AK is common in people with pale skin who have had extensive sun exposure over many years. It occurs more frequently in people aged 40 years and over and is more common in men than women. The condition can be inherited and some cases are linked to smoking. AK does not usually cause symptoms but may cause itchiness or tenderness in some cases.

AK is thought to be a pre-cancerous condition because it can develop into a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a type of skin cancer that can be life threatening if left untreated. However, only one in 10-20 AKs will progress to SCC if left untreated.


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