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Acitinic Keratosis

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Acitinic keratosis is a condition where one develops scaly or crusty lesions on the skin. This is due to years of sun damage to the skin. The condition is also called as solar keratosis.

What is Acitinic Keratosis?

The rough, scaly patch on the skin due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, that is, sunlight is called as acitinic keratosis. It is considered to be a precancerous skin condition often seen in pale-skinned, fair-haired, light-eyed people. The condition is precancerous as most of the cases progress to squamous cell carcinoma. It is commonly seen in people of over 30 to 40 years of age.

Appearance of Acitinic Keratosis

Acitinickeratosis are about 2 to 6 mm in diameter. They are red, pink, dark or light in color or have the same color like the skin with a yellowish or whitish scale on the top. The texture is quite rough to touch. These scaly patches are found on the sun-exposed skin of the body, that is, face, lips, ears, scalp, forearms, back of the hands, neck and lower legs in women.

Symptoms of Acitinic Keratosis

The symptoms of acitinic keratosis include:

  • Rough, scaly patch that is about 2.5 cms in diameter
  • Flat to slightly raised patch
  • Bump on the top layer of the skin
  • Color as pink, red, brown or flesh-colored
  • Itching or burning of the affected area

Causes of Acitinic Keratosis

Excessive exposure to excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.

Diagnosis of Acitinic Keratosis

Acitinic keratosis is diagnosed by thorough examination of the lesion. A biopsy is only when the keratosis is too large or thick. This will help prove it is only acitinic keratosis and not skin cancer.

Treatment of Acitinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is usually removed as a precaution. This is because it is very difficult to say which keratosis will turn into skin cancer. Thus, medicated creams and gels are prescribed. These include fluorouracil cream, imiquimod cream anddiclofenac gel.

If this does not work, Photodynamic therapy is carried out. In this a medicine is applied to the damaged skin that makes it sensitive to light. Then a laser light is applied on the skin to destroy these damaged skin cells. Apart from this surgical removal of damaged skin, by cryotherapy and curettage can also be performed.

Prevention of Acitinic Keratosis

Acitinic keratosis puts people living in a sunny region at risk. It is also a risk factor for people with fair skin, pale-skin, light-hair or red hair, blue or light-colored eyes. Thus, one should take ample precautions to prevent acitinic keratosis.

These precautions include:

  • Avoid spending more time in the sun. This will prevent damage to the skin and decrease the chances of developing acitinic keratosis
  • Cover your exposed skin with clothes like a wide brimmed hat, scarf, gloves, stockings, etc.
  • Avoid using tanning beds, tanning lotions and Bronzing lotions as they penetrate deep within the skin. This can lead to acitinic keratosis and skin cancer.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun or swimming

Aciitinic keratosis has about 0 to 0.5% chance of turning into skin cancer. In most of the cases, it gets cured. However, there are 15 to 50% chance of them returning after getting resolved. If you observe any changes in your skin texture, color or bumps and freckles, get them checked by a skin doctor. This can be a big step in curing acitinic keratosis and prevention of skin cancer.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: March 23, 2016