This condition is characterised by a rough, scaly patch on the skin that develops from years of exposure to the sun. It commonly occurs on the face, lips, ears, back of the hands, forearms, scalp, and neck. Also known as solar keratosis, this usually causes no signs or symptoms other than a small spot on the skin. The spot takes years to develop and usually appears in people over 40 years old.
Who’s at risk?
People with fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue or green eyes are most at risk of developing these keratoses. Also, people with a history of sunburn, also increases the risk. If this is not treated, the patches can develop to a more serious form of skin cancer.
- Rough, dry, or scaly patch of skin that is usually less than 1 inch in diameter
- Flat to slightly-raised patch or bump on the top layer of the skin
- Hard wart-like surface
- Color as varied as pink, red, or brown
- Itching or burning in the affected area
When to see a doctor
See a doctor if you have:
- an unusual growth on the skin
- a patch or lump that gets bigger, starts to hurt, or bleed
- had actinic keratoses before and if a new patch appears
- Avoid sun exposure between 10AM to 2PM
- Wear clothing that covers the arms and legs and at the same time, lets the skin breathe
- Wear a wide-brim hat that protects the ears, and carry an umbrella when going outdoors during peak sunlight hours
- Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours when outdoors even on cloudy days, and reapply frequently if you are sweating and getting in and out of the water
A process which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the surface of the skin, causing redness, until the area is replaced by new skin.
Surgical Removal and Biopsy
Removal of the lesion. After being removed, the sample is sent to a lab for further examination, to determine whether there is a possibility for it to become cancerous.
In this process, fluorouracil is applied to the skin lesion or the entire sun-damaged area. It takes around 4 to 6 weeks to work and the skin turns red with blisters before a new skin appears.
This therapy involves an application of a chemical on the skin, and exposure to a light that activates the chemical to destroy the abnormal skin cells.
The process involved the application of a solution to the skin. The chemical causes blistering and peeling away of the actinic keratoses. There is temporary redness and swelling after the procedure.
In this process, a handheld device is used to sand the skin and improve its appearance. It can be a painful procedure, so a topical numbing ointment, nerve blocks, or other pain medications are often used.
This treatment helps to selectively rid the skin of abnormal cells. Imiquimod cream, ingenol gel, or diclofenac gel is used in this procedure.