Actinic keratosis, also called solar keratosis, is a
precancerous skin condition that develops in sun-exposed skin, especially on
the face, hands, forearms, and neck. It occurs most often in pale-skinned,
fair-haired, light-eyed people beginning at age 30 or 40.
keratoses are persistent, noticeable, small red, brown, or skin-colored patches
that may become scaly, scabbed, or crusted. The patches may itch, burn, or
If the affected skin is protected from the sun, the
patches may grow smaller and disappear. If sun exposure continues, they may
eventually change into skin cancers (squamous cell carcinoma). Early treatment
of actinic keratoses—by cryotherapy (freezing), electrosurgery (burning),
curettage (scraping), photodynamic therapy (a treatment combining
light and medicine), or medicines that are put on the skin—can prevent
progression to squamous cell carcinoma.
October 2, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
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