An actinic, or solar, keratosis is a precancerous skin lesion that appears as rough, scaly, or crusty skin patches. They develop from long term chronic sun exposure. Actinic keratoses should be treated immediately to prevent them from turning into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Most people that are susceptible to developing these precancerous lesions typically will continue to get them. They should consistently see a dermatologist for total body exams. Providers will be able to destroy these lesions as they appear on the skin.
Actinic keratoses are caused by chronic sun exposure to the skin. The damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays causes these lesions to appear on the face, lips, scalp, ears, neck, forearms, or anywhere on the body that has accumulated excess exposure. Our providers recommend limiting sun exposure, applying sunblock every 3 hours, and wearing UV protective clothing (such as hats and sunglasses) when out in the sun for long periods of time. The sun’s rays are strongest during the hours between 10 am and 2 pm. Try to limit your exposure during this time frame.
Actinic keratoses are commonly treated with photodynamic therapy. This therapy uses a specific topical medication that is applied to the skin, and is activated by light therapy, commonly BLU-U light treatment. The light activates the medicine deep into the skin, causing it to react with oxygen, which forms a specific chemical that kills the precancerous cells.
The lesions can also be frozen with liquid nitrogen, or topical therapy may be prescribed by one of our providers.
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