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Actinic Keratoses

SUN EXPOSURE AND ACTINIC KERATOSES

Actinic Keratoses, also known as Solar Keratoses, are common precancerous skin conditions related to overexposure to the sun. Actinic keratoses are most commonly found on the bald scalp, face, ears, hands and forearms. They can be red, brown, pink, flesh-colored or a combination of these colors. They are rough and scaly and, therefore, are often discovered by touch. Associated symptoms may include itchiness or tenderness. Often more than one actinic keratosis is present on the common sites.

Actinic Keratoses Can Lead to Skin Cancer

Actinic keratoses can lead to to skin cancer if left long enough without treatment and the type of cancer they most often precede is squamous cell carcinoma. Actinic keratoses are treated in a variety of ways. The most common treatment at High Desert Dermatology and elsewhere is cryotherapy, in which the actinic keratosis is destroyed with a spray of liquid nitrogen. If many actinic keratoses are present, your High Desert dermatologist may recommend a topical cream that you apply at home for several weeks. 

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Avoiding exposure to the sun can prevent actinic keratoses. Wearing a sunscreen with SPF 30 everyday is recommended by High Desert physicians. A hat that effectively shields the sun is also a good tool for protection. The best hats should have wide brims, and when held up to the sun, will not let sunlight through. Long sleeves are a good way to protect arms from too much sun exposure and there is special UV protective fabric incorporated into garments specifically made for outdoor activities. These clothes can be found at sporting goods stores.

If you have already had actinic keratoses, it is extremely important to see your dermatologist regularly.

For additional information about actinic keratoses, or for an appointment, please contact us.