Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis Specialist
Actinic keratosis is a common skin condition that can eventually develop into skin cancer. Directly linked to exposure to ultraviolet rays, actinic keratosis usually appears on areas of your body that receive the most sun exposure. Men and women in the San Luis Obispo area rely on Coastal Family Dermatology to diagnose and treat all of their skin concerns. If you're concerned about changes in your skin, schedule an appointment online for a thorough examination and customized treatment plan.

Actinic Keratosis Q & A

Coastal Family Dermatology

What are the symptoms of actinic keratosis?

Because actinic keratosis and sun exposure are linked, symptoms usually develop on areas of your skin that are frequently exposed to the sun. These include your face, ears, hands, forearms, scalp, and neck.

Actinic keratosis presents symptoms including:

  • Small patches of rough or dry skin
  • Skin abnormalities that are flat or slightly raised and are very small
  • Bumps or patches that have a wart-like surface
  • Sensations of itching or burning in the area of a skin abnormality

Actinic keratosis is common amongst men and women over the age of 40 who live in a sunny locale. People with a history of skin cancer or previous actinic keratosis are more likely to develop the condition, as are those with light hair, eyes, and skin color. People with a weakened immune system are also known to be more susceptible to actinic keratosis.

How is actinic keratosis treated?

Because a small percentage of actinic keratoses can develop into cancer, you should have any skin abnormalities examined by a dermatologist right away. If your doctor determines that there are actinic keratoses present, a course of treatment is determined.

If only a few actinic keratoses are present, removal may be the best treatment approach. Removal options include freezing or scraping the damaged cells. Both options have a risk of side effects, including infection, scarring, and changes in skin color or texture at the site.

If you have multiple keratoses, treating the entire affected area with a topical medication may be a better approach. Several prescription creams can address actinic keratosis and may lead to redness and a burning sensation that lasts for several weeks.  

Is it possible to prevent actinic keratosis?

Prevention isn't only possible, but an essential part of maintaining healthy skin. Researchers have made a direct link between ultraviolet exposure and actinic keratosis, so prevention efforts are all centered around limiting your exposure to the sun or artificial UV light.

Here are some steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing actinic keratosis:

  • Use a good quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen every day
  • When enjoying a day in the sun, use a water-resistant sunscreen with a high SPF, and reapply frequently
  • Choose clothing that offers protection from the sun, and don’t forget a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Avoid using tanning beds
  • Evaluate your skin on a regular basis, and have your dermatologist check any changes or abnormalities

To receive a thorough skin evaluation or to have any noted skin issues checked, schedule an appointment with Coastal Family Dermatology today.


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