Actinic keratosis is a small, rough, raised area found on areas of your skin that have often 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)
Actinic keratosis is caused by exposure to sunlight.
You are more likely to develop this 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 doctor or nurse 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 all skin growths looked at by a doctor as soon as you find them. Your doctor will tell you how to treat it.
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 a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care 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 of 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, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier;2009: 812-818.
Soyer PH, Rigel DS, Wurm E MT: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 108.
Review Date: 11/20/2012
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.