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Other Skin Conditions

Multiple Actinic (Solar) Keratoses

Actinic (solar) keratosis (AK) are pre-cancerous lesions located on sun-exposed areas of the skin. While accurate figures on the prevalence and incidence of AKs are hard to obtain (only a small proportion of individuals with AKs seek or receive treatment), dermatologists estimate that millions of Americans have AKs, and the number continues to grow.1 AKs are so common today that they rank as one of the most frequent reasons people consult a dermatologist.1

Risk Factors and Symptoms

AKs appear as dry, scaly, rough-textured patches or lesions that form on the outmost layer of the skin after years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, such as sunlight. These lesions typically range in color from skin-toned to reddish brown and in size from that of a pinhead to larger than a quarter.

Treatment

Since AKs can progress to skin cancer, early detection and treatment are very important. And so is prevention with sunscreen and avoiding excessive sun exposure. There are several treatment options for AKs, including topical (applied to the skin) medications, curettage (scraping) with or without electrosurgery (heat generated by an electric current), cryosurgery (freezing), and surgical excision. Lasers, chemical peels, dermabrasion, and photodynamic therapy may also be used. Patients who have multiple AKs may not have all lesions treated at the same time, and in some cases, the dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon will use more than one treatment option. If you suffer from AKs, talk to your dermatologist about treatment options.



  1. American Academy of Dermatology. What are Actinic Keratoses? Available at: http://www.skincarephysicians.com/actinickeratosesnet/whatare.html Accessed: August 24, 2007