Solar keratosis; Sun-induced skin changes - keratosis; Keratosis - actinic (solar)
Actinic keratosis is a small, rough, raised area on your skin. Often this area has been exposed to the sun for a long period of time.
Some actinic keratoses may develop into a type of skin cancer.
Actinic keratosis is caused by exposure to sunlight.
You are more likely to develop it if you:
Actinic keratosis is usually found on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or places that are often in the sun.
Your health care provider will look at your skin to diagnose this condition. A skin biopsy may be done to see if it is cancer.
Some actinic keratoses become squamous cell skin cancer. Have your health care provider look at all skin growths as soon as you find them. Your provider will tell you how to treat them.
Growths may be removed by:
If you have many of these skin growths, your doctor may recommend:
A small number of these skin growths turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
Call your health care provider if you see or feel a rough or scaly spot on your skin, or if you notice any other skin changes.
The best way to lower your risk for actinic keratosis and skin cancer is to learn how to protect your skin from sun and ultraviolet (UV) light.
Things you can do to lower your exposure to sunlight include:
Other things to know about sun exposure:
Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2009: 812-818.
Soyer PH, Rigel DS, Wurm E MT, Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 108.
Last reviewed on: 11/12/2014
Reviewed by: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.