Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous spot on the skin. In some instances, these spots turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.

Pre-cancerous lesion of actinic keratosis

Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis

  • Rough spots that feel like "sandpaper"
  • Reddish in color
  • Small in size, a third to a half inch in diameter

These spots absorb liquid or powder cosmetic foundations differently than the rest of the skin. This tends to make even cosmetic application difficult - indeed, many women discover that they have actinic keratosis while applying cosmetics.

Who Gets Actinic Keratosis?

Although anyone can develop actinic keratosis, the most susceptible people are those with fair, white skin who has frequent sun exposure or who have sun-damaged skin.

This condition usually develops in people in their 30s, although it can sometimes develop in young adults and teenagers.


Actinic keratosis and other sun-damage to the skin can be avoided by:

  • Limiting the exposure to the sun
  • Wearing protective clothings and hats
  • Using lotion with high SPF (sun protection factor)

Is it Cancer?

No, actinic keratosis is not a cancer. However, they are a result of sun damage and may indicate greater risk of skin cancer in these areas.

People with actinic keratosis should examine their spots every month.

Actinic Keratosis Treatment?

Actinic keratosis treatments are:

  • Cryotherapy or freezing with liquid nitrogen
  • Topical cream with 5-fluorouracil
  • Chemical and laser peels

ActinicKeratosesNet - Online reference on actinic keratosis
Gallery of Actinic Keratosis

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