Solar keratosis

Solar keratosis are the most common keratosis and are caused by the exposure of the skin to sunlight for longperiods. This skin condition is also known as actinic keratosis, but the most of people and even the dermatologists use the solar keratosis term. They most frequently places where occur are the most sunexposed skin parts as the scalp, face, backs of the hands, forehead,  and of course the forearms. The responsible for the normal aging of the skin and of the actinic keratosis is the  ultra violet light from the sun rays and is proved that tis is the main cause of skin cancer. Solar keratosis may be a pre-form of cancer and in some cases skin cancers can develop within them.

Who is most prone at risk of developing actinic keratosis?

Solar keratosis (actinic keratosis) may occur in anyone if they have been exposed to sun for a long period of time. They are seen most common in middle aged to elderly adults and on the people with white skin. Those most at risk include outdoor workers, sailors and the very fair skinned (who burn easily in the sun). People who take drugs to suppress the immune system (eg: following an organ transplant) are also at increased risk of developing solar keratosis.

solar-keratosisWhat do solar keratosis look like?

They are usually patches of dry, scaly skin that can vary in colour from pink to red to brown. The lesions may be flat but can also be raised (bumps), especially when they ar e on the arms and hands. They can sometimes be confused with other types of skin lesion and can look identical to an early squamous cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer).

How are solar keratosis treated?

There are several methods of tr eating solar keratosis. These include cryotherapy (freezing) and curettage (scraping the lesion off the skin, performed under local anaesthetic). If there are multiple lesions in he same area of skin (eg: the scalp), a topical cream applied daily (usually for a period of at least 4 weeks) may be pre- scribed. This is a form of topical chemotherapy which causes the abnormal skin cells to die (but not the normal healthy cells). It can sometimes make the skin quite sore during treatment. In cases where the Doctor cannot exclude a skin cancer the lesion may be cut out and the wound stitched. The piece of skin is then looked at under the microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

Does solar keratosis treatment result in a cure?

Although the solar keratosis that have been treated willusually resolve, it is very likely that more lesions will develop, requiring further treatment.

The development of solar keratosis is a sign that the underlying skin is damaged from many years of sun exposur e and this cannot be reversed.

How can solar keratosis be prevented?

Reducing exposure of the skin to the sun is most important. Wearing protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats when outdoors will protect the skin areas most at risk. Application of Sun Block (Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 25 or above) to exposed areas of skin before going out in the sun and re-application every 2-3 hours (more frequently if swimming or perspiring) is also very important. It is also advisable to avoid the sunshine during the midday hours. Sun beds should be avoided.

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This information is provided to supplement the care provided by your dermatologist and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.