Actinic keratosis is a small, rough, raised area on your skin. Often this area has been exposed to the sun for a long period of time.
Some actinic keratoses may develop into a type of skin cancer.
Solar keratosis; Sun-induced skin changes - keratosis; Keratosis - actinic (solar); Skin lesion - actinic keratosis
Actinic keratosis is caused by exposure to sunlight.
You are more likely to develop it if you:
Actinic keratosis is usually found on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or places that are often in the sun.
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider will look at your skin to diagnose this condition. A skin biopsy may be done to see if it is cancer.
Some actinic keratoses become squamous cell skin cancer. Have your provider look at all skin growths as soon as you find them. Your provider will tell you how to treat them.
Growths may be removed by:
If you have many of these skin growths, your doctor may recommend:
A small number of these skin growths turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you see or feel a rough or scaly spot on your skin, or if you notice any other skin changes.
The best way to lower your risk for actinic keratosis and skin cancer is to learn how to protect your skin from sun and ultraviolet (UV) light.
Things you can do to lower your exposure to sunlight include:
Other things to know about sun exposure:
Habif TP. Premalignant and malignant nonmelanoma skin tumors. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 21.
Ibrahim SF, Brown MD. Actinic keratoses. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 5.
Review Date: 8/20/2016
Reviewed By: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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