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Actinic Keratosis Information and Treatment

Actinic keratosis is a premalignant condition of thick, scaly, or crusty patches of skin . It is most common in fair-skinned people who are frequently exposed to the sun, because their pigment isn't very protective. Many doctors consider actinic keratosis to be precancerous because it can develop into skin cancer. Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, grow slowly and usually cause no signs or symptoms other than patches or small spots on your skin. These lesions take years to develop, usually first appearing in older adults. Left untreated, about 2 percent to 5 percent of actinic keratoses develop into a serious form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. An actinic keratosis site commonly ranges in between 2 to 6 millimeters, and can be dark or light, tan, pink, red, a combination of all these, or the same pigment of one's skin. It may appear on any sun exposed area, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, back of hands, forearms, lips etc.

Solar keratoses are a reflection of abnormal skin cell development due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. AK is most often observed in people aged over 40. The lesions form on skin that has been exposed to the sun, and are usually red with small, hard scales or lumps. It is quite usual to have one or a few small AKs, but it is not uncommon for these to spread over the years, resulting in a large collection of AKs on the forehead, for example. Very often, actinic keratosis causes itching and irritation and sometimes even open sores. These are generally not dangerous, but in isolated cases they can lead to the more serious condition of squamous cell cancer, which is a malignant skin cancer. Most AKs do not progress to SCC; the risk of malignant transformation of an AK within one year is approximately 1 in 1000. On the other hand, approximately 60 percent of SCCs of the skin probably arise from AKs .


 

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