What Is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic Keratosis, also known as Solar Keratosis is a skin condition developed on sun-exposed skin. It is most common on the face, neck, forearms and hands. It appears similar to scabs which are often dry, crusty and rough.

Actinic keratoses might develop into specific types of skin cancers, which can be diagnosed with a skin biopsy, but regular Actinic Keratosis can be diagnosed by a health-care professional by simply observing your skin.

Common symptoms include:

  • Patches can burn and sting
  • 2 to 6mm in size
  • Irritation
  • Possible bleeding
  • Redness

Those with fair and light skin, green or blue eyes and blonde or red hair have a higher risk of developing Actinic Keratosis. People with specific rare skin conditions, like Xeroderma Pigmentosum are likely to have AK. Adults are more likely to have it, due to the longer periods of sun exposure. Africans are far less-likely to have actinic keratoses.

 Treatment Options

Reducing the amount of sun exposure is considered to be the best treatment for actinic keratoses. There are many other treatment options available. These are some of the most common ones.

  • Cryotherapy – Cryosurgey solution is sprayed on the lesions, freezing the cells. They become scabs and eventually peel off.
  • Chemical peels – A chemical solution is applied to the lesions, causing them to peel off over time. An example is 5-FU.
  • Excision – This will cut the lesions from the skin. This will most-likely be used if the lesion is cancerous.
  • Curettage and cautery – The lesion is scraped off and and heat is applied to the surface of the skin.
  • Light therapy – Also known as phototherapy. A chemical solution is applied to the lesion, then your skin is placed under a specific light exposure to kill the cells.

If you are afraid your AK is serious, see your doctor for inspection and possible treatment. Remember to lessen the sun exposure of your skin to prevent the AK from developing further.

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