An keratosis may be a rough, scaly patch on your skin that develops from years of exposure to the sun. It's most ordinarily found on your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp or neck.
Also referred to as a solar keratosis, an keratosis enlarges slowly and typically causes no signs or symptoms aside from a patch or small spot on your skin. These patches take years to develop, usually first appearing in people over 40.
A small percentage of keratosis lesions can eventually become carcinoma . You can reduce your risk of actinic keratoses by minimizing your sun exposure and protecting your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
The signs and symptoms of an keratosis include:
Ø Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
Ø Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
Ø In some cases, a hard, wartlike surface
Ø Color as varied as pink, red or brown
Ø Itching or burning in the affected area
When to see a doctor
It can be difficult to distinguish between noncancerous spots and cancerous ones. So it's best to have new skin changes evaluated by a doctor — especially if a spot or lesion persists, grows or bleeds.
An actinic keratosis is caused by frequent or intense exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.
Anyone can develop actinic keratoses. But you may be more likely to develop the condition if you:
Ø Are older than 40
Ø Live in a sunny place
Ø Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn
Ø Have red or blond hair, and blue or light-colored eyes
Ø Tend to freckle or burn when exposed to sunlight
Ø Have a personal history of an actinic keratosis or skin cancer
Prevention of actinic keratoses is vital because the condition can precede cancer or be an early sort of carcinoma . Sun safety is important to assist prevent development and recurrence of keratosis patches and spots.
Take these steps to protect your skin from the sun:
Limit your time in the sun - Especially avoid time within the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And avoid staying in the sun so long that you get a sunburn or a suntan. Both end in skin damage which will increase your risk of developing actinic keratoses and carcinoma . Sun exposure accumulated over time can also cause actinic keratoses.
Use sunscreen - Daily use of sunscreen reduces the event of actinic keratoses. Before spending time outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of a minimum of 30. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends employing a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of a minimum of 30.
Use sunscreen on all exposed skin, and use ointment with sunscreen on your lips. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.
Cover up - For extra protection from the sun, wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Also wear a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a jockey cap or golf visor. You might also consider wearing clothing or outdoor gear specially designed to supply sun protection.
Avoid tanning beds - The UV exposure from a tanning bed can cause even as much skin damage as a tan acquired from the sun.
Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor - Examine your skin regularly, trying to find the event of latest skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks. With the assistance of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears and scalp. Examine the tops and undersides of your arms and hands.
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