Solar keratosis; Sun-induced skin changes - keratosis; Keratosis - actinic (solar); Skin lesion - actinic keratosis
Actinic keratosis is a small, rough, raised area on your skin. Often this area has been exposed to the sun over a long period of time.
Some actinic keratoses may develop into a type of skin cancer.
Actinic keratosis is caused by exposure to sunlight.
You are more likely to develop it if you:
Actinic keratosis is usually found on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or places that are often in the sun.
Your health care provider will look at your skin to diagnose this condition. A skin biopsy may be done to see if it is cancer.
Some actinic keratoses become squamous cell skin cancer. Have your provider look at all skin growths as soon as you find them. Your provider will tell you how to treat them.
Growths may be removed by:
If you have many of these skin growths, your doctor may recommend:
A small number of these skin growths turn into squamous cell carcinoma.
Contact your provider if you see or feel a rough or scaly spot on your skin, or if you notice any other skin changes.
The best way to lower your risk for actinic keratosis and skin cancer is to learn how to protect your skin from sun and ultraviolet (UV) light.
Things you can do to lower your exposure to sunlight include:
Other things to know about sun exposure:
American Academy of Dermatology Association website. Actinic keratosis: diagnosis and treatment. www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/actinic-keratosis-treatment. Updated February 23, 2022. Accessed December 2, 2022.
Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Skin, hair, and nails. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Siedel's Guide to Physical Examination. 10th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2023:chap 9.
Dinulos JGH. Premalignant and malignant nonmelanoma skin tumors. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 21.
Gawkrodger DJ, Ardern-Jones MR. Pigmentation. In: Gawkrodger DJ, Ardern-Jones MR, eds. Dermatology: An Illustrated Colour Text. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 42.
Soyer HP, Rigel DS, McMeniman E. Actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 108.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/18/2022
Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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