Actinic keratoses normally develop in areas that have been damaged through years of sun exposure. They usually appear when you have an actinic keratosis (AK), which is a common skin condition as we age.

As we get older, we may begin to find out rough, scaly spots that start to appear on our hands, arms, or face. These kinds of spots are called actinic keratoses, but it is commonly known as sunspots or sometimes known as age spots.

Actinic keratosis takes place when the skin cells called keratinocytes start to develop abnormally, forming scaly and discolored spots. The skin patches either be any of these colors:

  • Brown
  • Tan
  • Gray
  • Pink

They grow on the parts of the body that get the most sun exposure, this will include the following:

  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Neck


Actinic keratoses may start as thick, scaly, crusty skin patches. Those patches are usually the same as the size of a small pencil eraser. This condition is accompanied by a burning sensation and itchiness in the affected area. Don’t worry because this is easy to diagnose and can be treated in its early stages.

But, you should let your spots get examined by a doctor immediately if you notice any of the following changes:

  • Hardening of the lesion
  • Inflammation
  • Quick enlargement
  • Sign of bleeding
  • Redness
  • Ulceration


Other common types of leg ulcer include:

  • Arterial leg ulcers
  • Diabetic leg ulcers
  • Malignant leg ulcers
  • Traumatic leg ulcers
  • Vasculitic leg ulcers

Ulcers in the foot are usually caused by diabetes.



Itching, pain, and swelling in the affected leg are characteristic symptoms of a venous leg ulcer.

Discoloration, hardening of the skin around the ulcer, and presence of a foul-smelling discharge may also be present when you have a venous leg ulcer.

If you have a venous leg ulcer, you may exhibit the following conditions:

  • discoloration and darkening of the skin around the ulcer
  • swollen ankles
  • red, flaky, scaly and itchy skin on your legs
  • swollen and enlarged veins on your legs
  • hardened skin around the ulcer, which may make your leg feel hard
  • a heavy feeling in your legs
  • an unpleasant and foul-smelling discharge from the ulcer
  • aching or swelling in your legs


Signs of an infection

Opportunistic pathogens could cause secondary bacterial infections due to the ulcer. 

Symptoms of an infected leg ulcer may include:

  • a green or unpleasant discharge coming from the ulcer
  • fever
  • redness and swelling of the skin around the ulcer
  • worsening pain
  • an unpleasant smell coming from the ulcer


Some experts may be able to diagnose actinic keratoses by simply looking at it. He or she may want also to take a skin biopsy of any lesions that look suspicious. A skin biopsy is the only fool-proof way to tell whether the lesions developed into a malignant condition.



Actinic keratoses can be treated by the following methods:

Excision involves cutting the affected area of the skin. Your doctor may prefer to remove those extra tissues around or under the lesion if there are concerns that it will develop into skin cancer. Sometimes stitches may or may not be needed this treatment.

Cauterization the lesion is burned with an electric current. This is an effective way of killing the affected skin cells.

Cryotherapylikewise called cryosurgery, is a kind of treatment in which the lesion is exposed to a cryosurgery solution spray, which, like liquid nitrogen, freezes the cells upon contact and kills them.

Topical medical therapy like Carac, Efudex, Fluoroplex, Tolak  will cause inflammation and remove the lesions.

Phototherapy during treatment, a solution is applied over the lesion and the affected skin. The area will undergo  intense laser light that will target and kill the cells.

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