Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis is caused due to excess exposure of skin to sun. It results in a spot that is rough, small and scaly. Its color is red and is around two to six mm in diameter. Its texture is rough and its scale may be whitish or yellow in color. Actinic Keratosis is called as ‘solar keratosis’ too. It usually does not show any symptom; it may occur as a small spot and later be developed into actinic keratosis. When clothes or fingers rub on the spots then it can be painful and sore. Actinic keratosis can be seen usually on lips, hands, face, neck and the parts that are out in the open in sun. This actinic keratosis develops over the years and can cause skin cancer as well. One can avoid it by lessening skin exposure to the sun and taking precautions to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays.

Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis

Some of the symptoms of actinic keratosis are as follows:

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  • Itchiness or burning sensation
  • Small rough spots
  • It could appear to be slightly swollen on the skin
  • The color changes from pinkish – reddish – brownish or color of the skin.
  • Sometimes the skin surface is like a hard lump.

Causes of Actinic Keratosis

  • The main cause for actinic keratosis is excess exposure of skin to the sun. The ultraviolet ray damages the skin and over the years if the skin is still exposed to sun, there are high risks of skin cancer.

Usually actinic keratosis affects all ages but there are high chances of being affected by actinic keratosis if:

  • The person is more than forty years
  • The immune system is not very strong
  • In the past has being infected by actinic keratosis
  • The skin is being usually exposed to the sun causing sunburn and freckles
  • Resides in place where the climate is hot
  • The person has pale skin or is a redhead or blonde or light colored eyes, they have a high risk of actinic keratosis

Diagnosis of Actinic Keratosis

Sometimes it is not easy to know whether spots and lesions are dangerous or not, but it is better to consult a skin specialist if patch starts to grow and bleed. It is advisable to contact the skin specialist immediately if the spot becomes

  • very painful
  • burning sensation or itchiness
  • bleeding of spot
  • change in color or size
  • turns scaly

Usually physicians can know an actinic keratosis through examinations but if the spot is very big or thick then biopsy has to be done because it will help to know whether the spot is only an actinic keratosis or has developed into skin cancer.

Actinic Keratosis treatment

Actinic keratosis may or may not turn into skin cancer but as a safety measure it should be treated and cured. It takes some days to cure. The best treatment is to keep away from sun. Some treatments are as follows:

  • Cream and ointment: A chemotherapy drug called fluorouracil is taken, this helps in destroying the cells of actinic keratosis. It blocks the functions in the actinic keratosis cells. A cream called Aldara can also be applied on the skin; it helps in stimulating the body in rejecting the cells that could cause cancer. Such cream and ointments as per doctor direction can be used but it also has side effects like itchiness, irritation and burning feeling on the particular skin area which is being treated.
  • Cryotherapy: Cold substances like nitrogen in liquid form can be used on rough spots. These substances freeze the skin surface. This leads to peeling of skin and as the skin is being cured the spots fall off letting new skin to come up. This treatment can be done in skin specialist place not taking much time as well. But it has side effect like the skin is darkened, texture changes or scar the skin.
  • Dermabrasion: In Dermabrasion the actinic keratosis spot is cleaned by a brush that is moved in a rapid motion. Also local anesthetic is used. In this the skin becomes red and it heals after many months but the new skin is usually smooth.
  • Photodynamic therapy: A photosensitizing agent is given through injection or is applied on the lesions. This allows the actinic keratosis cells sensitive to light. Then laser light is used for the destruction of the cells.
  • Curettage: The skin specialist uses an instrument known as curet to remove the skin cells that have been damaged. This scraping could be followed by electro surgery. In electro surgery with the help of a pencil shape device the actinic keratosis skin cells are destroyed with an electric current. For this local anesthetic is required.
  • Laser therapy: In this therapy usually local anesthesia is used. In laser therapy, laser is used to do away with the actinic keratosis and the damaged skin the below it. It may result in loss of pigments and scars.
  • Chemical peeling: In this certain chemicals are used on the spots causing blisters leading to peeling off the skin and after few days new skin is formed

Actinic Keratosis pictures

Here are images which shows presence of actinic kertosis on scalp, nose, face, hands etc


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