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Actinic keratoses

These are irregular, highlighted pre-cancerous marks on the body that may differ in size and shape. Some of these can be as big as horns while others can be quite flat. Light skinned people who get them more exposed to the sun are often prone to develop this condition when they reach their forties. Sometimes, teenagers can also develop this condition. Also remember that actinic keratoses should be take care of before they form squamous cell cancer. It is true that not everyone with actinic keratoses will develop cancer. But as some do, it’s always better to avoid the danger and get them removed as soon as possible. Explained below are some more facts about actinic keratoses.

Actinic keratoses - appearance and symptoms

This condition may appear different in different persons. It’s also possible in some cases to completely bypass its occurrence altogether as lesions are exceptionally small and often skin colored. Also, the skin affected by this condition may look blemished and will be rough to touch. Actinic keratoses are generally pink, gray, brown or red in color.

Actinic keratoses tend to grow slowly and may fade away sometimes only to reappear in the same spot later. Skin areas exposed to the sun such as nose, back of hands, scalp of bald persons, lower lips, ears etc are more at risk to develop this condition. Make sure to consult a doctor if the affected area shows bleeding, growing, itching or any change in the appearance.

Another important thing is that as actinic keratoses can develop into a more dangerous squamous cell cancer you should be prompt in seeking the advice of a medical practitioner about their removal and the different preventive measures you can follow in order to stop their further growth. Usually, if the affected skin cells grow more, they may acquire a shape similar to a straight or curved horn whose size may vary.

Most of the time, a careful examination is all that is required for an experienced doctor to diagnose actinic keratoses. If it’s especially thick or large, a biopsy can also be recommended to confirm the condition as keratoses and not a skin cancer.

The finest treatment for this condition is prevention. This basically means to minimize sun exposure for light skinned persons. But, a commonly observed fact is that once actinic keratoses develop, ultraviolet radiation might have already caused the damage it intended to and so preventive actions may not be useful anymore. Luckily, treatment methods associated with actinic keratoses are usually simple as explained below:

  • Cryosurgery: This involves using liquid nitrogen for freezing actinic keratoses which often causes them to go away.
  • Other forms of surgery: Surgeries can often burn off or cut away actinic keratoses.
  • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU): If you apply creams with this medication they become red and engorged before they drop off. Even though this method is effective, it often produces hideous and painful skin for some weeks. This makes it less viable for many patients.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This treatment involves applying a colour that sensitizes the skin to brightness. This dye will get activated if you leave it on the skin for approximately one hour, and then show the skin to light from a light source or laser. Make sure that the victims avoid sun exposure and sharp fluorescent light for 2 days so that continuous peeling can be stopped.
  • Diclofenac: This is a cream which is non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory when compared to 5-FU or imiquimod, it creates less inflammation, but must be used for at least 2 months to achieve the desired benefits.



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