Actinic Keratosis


Actinic keratosis (also called solar keratosis) is a dry scaly patch of skin that has been damaged by the sun. The patch is not usually serious, but there’s a small chance they could become skin cancer, so it’s important to avoid further damage to your skin.

Risk factors of actinic keratosis

  • Ultraviolet radiation 
  • Have a history of a lot of sun exposure or sunburn
  • Having fair skin color 
  • Older and live in a sunny place 
  • Have a weakened immune system

Clinical signs and symptoms of actinic keratosis 

  • Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
  • Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
  • In some cases, a hard, wart like surface
  • Color variations, including pink, red or brown
  • Itching, burning, bleeding or crusting
  • New patches or bumps on sun-exposed areas of the head, neck, hands and forearms

Treatment for actinic keratosis

  • Prescription creams and gels
  • Freezing the patches (cryotherapy), this makes the patches turn into blisters and fall off after a few weeks
  • Surgery to cut out or scrape away the patches – you will be given a local anesthetic first, so it does not hurt
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT), where special cream is applied to the patches and a light is shone onto them to kill abnormal skin cells

Actinic keratosis prevention

  • Limit your time in the sun
  • Use sunscreen and sun protection 
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor

Get a Skin Cancer Screening at Katu Dermatology

Katu Dermatology offers comprehensive skin cancer examinations. Let our certified dermatologists examine your skin for any marks that have an unusual size, color, or texture. Book an appointment with us today.

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