Actinic Keratosis Cleveland
Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a precancerous lesion of the epidermis (outer layer of skin) that is caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. Chronic sunlight exposure alters the keratinocytes (cells that make up the majority of the epidermis) and causes areas of your skin to become scaly, rough, discolored and sometimes tender to the touch.
AKs are most commonly found on sun-exposed areas such as the face, lips, ears, neck, scalp, forearms and backs of hands. People who have fair skin and light-colored hair and eyes are at the greatest risk of developing AKs.
AKs are not life threatening as long as they are diagnosed and treated in the early stages. If left untreated, aggressive AKs have the potential to progress into squamous cell carcinoma, a serious type of skin cancer.
Your treatment may vary based on the location, size of the lesion and the amount of AKs you have developed. Your age and general health will also be taken into consideration. Common treatment options are cryosurgery (freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen), topical chemotherapy creams, photodynamic therapy, chemical peels and laser resurfacing therapy.
Your physician will help you decide which option is best for you. Therefore, it is important to report any suspicious skin lesions to your physician.