Actinic Keratosis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratosis is a rough, dry, scaly patch or growth on the skin. These growths are more common in fair-skinned people with long-term, frequent exposure to the sun. Sometimes, actinic keratosis may develop into a type of skin cancer.
What causes actinic keratosis?
Long-term exposure to sunlight mainly causes actinic keratosis. Ultraviolet rays of the sun damage the skin.
A person is more likely to develop actinic keratosis if he/she:
- Has fair skin, blue or green eyes, or blond or red hair
- Has had d a kidney or other organ transplant
- Takesimmunosuppressant medicines
- Spends a lot of time each day in the sun
- Has had many severe sunburns early in life
- Is older
What are the symptoms of actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratosis usually develops on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or areas that are often exposed to the sun.
These skin changes or growths:
- Begin as flat and scaly areas. They often have a white or yellow crusty scale on top.
- Maybe gray, pink, red, or the same color as your skin. Later they may become hard and wart-like or gritty and rough.
- Maybe easier to feel than see.
How is actinic keratosis diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose actinic keratosis by looking at the affected skin. A skin biopsy may be ordered to check if it is cancer.
How is actinic keratosis treated?
Treatment of actinic keratosis varies depending on the size and number of growths. Sometimes, an actinic keratosis develops into skin cancer.
The doctor may remove actinic keratosis by:
- Electrocautery (burning)
- Curettage and electrodesiccation(scraping away the lesion and kill remaining cells with electricity)
- Excision (cutting the tumor out)
- Cryotherapy (freezing the cells to kill them)
The doctor may also recommend the following treatment:
- Photodynamic therapy (a type of laser treatment)
- Chemical peels
- Topical creams, such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and imiquimod
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.