Actinic keratoses (AKs) are caused by skin damage from UV rays. This can be due to the sun or indoor tanning. AKs are considered precancerous, and can possibly turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
AKs are most commonly found on sun-exposed areas such as the face, lips, ears, neck, scalp, forearms and backs of hands. In the beginning, actinic keratoses are frequently so small that they are recognized by touch rather than sight.
People who have fair skin and light-colored hair and eyes are at the greatest risk of developing AKs. Individuals who are immunosuppressed, either by cancer chemotherapy treatments or organ transplants, and who have an immuno-deficiency disorder, are also considered high risk for developing AKs.
Anyone with multiple AKs should be under the care of a dermatologist.
Your treatment may vary based on the location, size of the lesion and the amount of AKs you have developed. Your age and general health will also be taken into consideration. Common treatment options include
- cryosurgery (freezing lesion with liquid nitrogen)
- topical chemotherapy creams