Actinic Keratosis Warning Signs and images

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Overview of Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis It also known as Solar keratosis, Actinic keratoses (AKs) are premalignant neoplasm of the epidermis caused by excessive exposure to sunlight and manifesting as an ill-marginated, erythematous, scaling, rough papule or patch that form on sun exposed areas of the skin,including the scalp, face, forearms, and back of the hands.

Actinic keratoses are usually scaly, feel like sandpaper to the touch, and range in color from skin-toned to reddish-brown ” AK are more easily felt than seen, as their overlying scale is thick and firmly adherent”. Actinic keratoses may be as small as the head of a pin or as large as a quarter (or bigger, if left untreated).

Actinic keratoses are most common in individuals over 40 years old with fair skin and years of excessive sun exposure. However, even younger people (including those with dark skin) can develop actinic keratoses if they live in very sunny climates. 
Lesions are occasionally tender to palpation. Fair-skinned persons, who burn easily and tan poorly, are most commonly affected. A small percentage of AK on non-mucosal skin can progress to skin cancer squamous cell carcinoma. Ultraviolet light exposure induces formation of the lesions.

Causes of Actinic Keratosis

An actinic keratosis is caused by frequent or intense exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.

Risk factors of Actinic Keratosis

Anyone can develop actinic keratoses. But you may be more likely to develop the condition if you:
  1. Are older than 40
  2. Live in a sunny place
  3. Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn
  4. Have red or blond hair, and blue or light-colored eyes
  5. Tend to freckle or burn when exposed to sunlight
  6. Have a personal history of an actinic keratosis or skin cancer
  7. Have a weak immune system as a result of chemotherapy, leukemia, AIDS or organ transplant medications

Symptoms of Actinic

The signs and symptoms of an actinic keratosis include:

  1. Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
  2. Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
  3. In some cases, a hard, wartlike surface
  4. Color as varied as pink, red or brown
  5. Itching or burning in the affected area
Actinic keratoses are found primarily on areas exposed to the sun, such as your face, lips, ears, hands, forearms, scalp and neck.

Prevention of Actinic

Prevention of actinic keratoses is important because the condition can precede cancer or be an early form of skin cancer. Sun safety is necessary to help prevent development and recurrence of actinic keratosis patches and spots.
Take these steps to protect your skin from the sun:

  1. Limit your time in the sun. Especially avoid time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And avoid staying in the sun so long that you get a sunburn or a suntan. Both result in skin damage that can increase your risk of developing actinic keratoses and skin cancer. Sun exposure accumulated over time may also cause actinic keratoses.
  2. Use sunscreen. Daily use of sunscreen reduces the development of actinic keratoses. Before spending time outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  3. Use sunscreen on all exposed skin, and use lip balm with sunscreen on your lips. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.
  4. Cover up. For extra protection from the sun, wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Also wear a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or golf visor. You might also consider wearing clothing or outdoor gear specially designed to provide sun protection.
  5. Avoid tanning beds. The UV exposure from a tanning bed can cause just as much skin damage as a tan acquired from the sun. 5. Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor. Examine your skin regularly, looking for the development of new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks. With the help of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears and scalp. Examine the tops and undersides of your arms and hands.
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