Actinic Keratoses are precancerous skin cells that can eventually progress into squamous cell carcinoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer, if not properly treated. Skin affected by actinic keratoses presents with rough, scaly lesions that are flesh-toned to red brown in color.
Sun damage from harmful UV radiation causes an occurrence of actinic keratosis, and risk factors for developing this skin condition include fair skin, red or blonde hair, blue, green or gray eyes, significant cumulative sun exposure and frequent exposure to sunlight in areas with high UV intensity, such as locations near the equator.
Because actinic keratoses typically develop over time, they are most common in patients over 40, however they can occur in patients as young as teenagers. Patients who deliberately expose their skin to sunlight by avoiding sunscreen products and using tan accelerators and tanning beds have a high risk of developing actinic keratoses.
Patches of dry, scaly skin ranging in size from a pen tip to a half dollar should be checked out by a dermatologist to prevent an occurrence of actinic keratosis from going untreated and progressing into a more serious skin condition.
An actinic keratosis may form on any area of skin that is exposed to the sun, including the face, ears, scalp, neck, arms and hands. When actinic keratosis occurs in the lips, it is referred to as actinic cheilitis.
Although actinic keratoses are precancerous skin cells, they are typically treated in much the same manner as skin cancers, via the following procedures: