Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis, often abbreviated as AK, is a skin condition characterized by the formation of rough, scaly patches or lesions on the skin. These growths are typically caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. Actinic keratosis is considered a precancerous condition because it can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.

Key characteristics of actinic keratosis include:

  1. Skin Lesions: Actinic keratoses appear as small, red, pink, flesh-colored, or brownish patches on the skin's surface. They are often rough, dry, and scaly, resembling sandpaper or a wart.
  2. Sun Exposure: Sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, backs of hands, forearms, and lips, are more commonly affected by actinic keratosis.
  3. Precancerous: While actinic keratosis itself is not a form of skin cancer, it has the potential to develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
  4. Symptoms: These lesions can be itchy, tender, or painful, and they may increase in size over time. In some cases, they can spontaneously resolve, but it's important to seek medical attention if you notice any skin changes.

It's crucial to diagnose and treat actinic keratosis promptly to reduce the risk of it progressing to skin cancer. Treatment options may include topical medications, cryotherapy (freezing the lesions), laser therapy, chemical peels, or other surgical procedures. In addition to medical treatment, individuals with actinic keratosis should take steps to protect their skin from further sun damage by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding excessive sun exposure. Regular skin checks with a healthcare professional are recommended for individuals at risk or those with a history of actinic keratosis.

Clear Choice Dermatology providers can accurately diagnose the lesion and recommend an effective treatment plan just for you. Schedule a full-body skin check online or contact us today.