What is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic keratosis (solar keratosis) is characterized by patches of flaky discolored skin. The precancerous condition is caused by long-term sun or tanning bed exposure. It most often appears in commonly exposed areas including the lips, other areas of the face, the backsides of hands, the forearms, the neck and the head.
Who does it usually affect?
The condition most often strikes those over 40 and can take years to appear. Those with light skin, hair and eyes are particularly susceptible as are those with compromised immune systems.
What are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis?
The patches are usually red or pink in color, but they can also look brown, tan or light gray and feel firm and/or gritty. They are usually flat or somewhat raised, but they can have a scaly, flaky wart-like appearance. The skin that surrounds the patches often appears thin and delicate. The lesions may also burn and itch.
How is Actinic Keratosis Treated?
Treatment may involve using liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) to freeze and remove the lesions. When growths are numerous the condition is commonly treated with topical medication containing fluorouracil.
Consult a doctor
They should be examined by a doctor, especially if they grow or bleed. Cancerous lesions can be difficult to differentiate from benign skin growths, and a biopsy is required to rule out squamous cell cancer.