Actinic keratosis, also referred to as solar keratosis, develops slowly and commonly shows in adults over the age of 40. You may lower your chance of developing this skin disease by limiting your exposure to the sun and preserving your skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

If neglected, actinic keratosis has a five to ten percent risk of progressing to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.


Actinic keratosis may seem quite different from one another. Among the symptoms are:

  • A flat to slightly elevated area or bump on the upper layer of the skin
  • Color changes including brown, red, and pink
  • A scaly patch, dry, or rough of skin that is often smaller than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter
  • Bleeding, crusting, itching, or burning
  • A rough, wart-like surface might develop in some cases
    New bumps on sun-exposed parts of the hands, neck, forearms, or head


Looking at your skin is likely enough for your doctor to assess whether or not you have actinic keratosis. If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, the healthcare provider may suggest additional tests, such as a skin biopsy. During a skin biopsy, a tiny portion of the patient’s skin is removed for further examination in a clinical setting. In most cases, a biopsy may be performed in a clinic after an injection of numbing medication.

Even after treating actinic keratosis, your doctor may recommend that you have a skin exam at least once a year to look for early indications of skin cancer.


Sometimes an actinic keratosis will go away independently, but it will probably return if you spend more time in the sun. Because it is difficult to determine which actinic keratoses may progress into skin cancer, actinic keratosis is often treated as a precaution.


If you have several actinic keratosis, your doctor may recommend a medicinal gel or cream to eliminate them, such as fluorouracil, imiquimod, or diclofenac. These medications may be found in a variety of brands. The usage of these products might result in irritated skin or a burning feeling that lasts for many weeks.

Surgical and Other Procedures

Actinic keratosis may be removed using a variety of methods, including the following:

  • Laser therapy
  • Freezing (cryotherapy)
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Scraping (curettage)

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