Do you have rough, scaly patches on your skin? They might be actinic keratosis, aka solar keratosis.
Actinic keratosis are precancerous patches caused by sun exposure damage and grow slowly. Occasionally, a solar keratosis advances into squamous cell skin cancer. Hence the reason they’re denoted as precancerous.
Actinic keratosis may look like a solar freckle. But these patches are rough and scaly to the touch. Another difference is solar keratosis can develop into skin cancer (precancerous), whereas solar freckles do not.
Besides being a rough and scaly skin patch, actinic keratosis may cause these other skin lesion symptoms:
- color ~ brown gray, pink, red, same as skin
- texture ~ flat, slightly raised, wart like, gritty
- location ~ sun exposed areas like face, scalp, forearm, hands, chest, back
Solar keratosis can cause itchy skin at the site of the patches.
If you are fair skinned, are out in the sun daily or have had multiple sunburns in the past, then you have a higher risk for patches of actinic keratosis to show up. Also, if your immune system is weak, caused by chemotherapy, HIV or organ transplant, then you’re at a greater risk for these rough, scaly skin patches as well. And darker skinned folks rarely get solar keratosis.
Because solar keratosis are precancerous skin changes, your health care provider may recommend removal treatment. This actinic keratosis treatment may be done by:
- surgical excision
- chemical peeling
- electrical cautery
- photodynamic therapy
- tretinoin, adapalene, fluorouracil, diclofenac, or imiquimod containing creams
And before you go get yourself all worked up about cancer, remember those rough, scaly patches caused by actinic keratosis are benign.