An actinic keratosis is a patch of crusty, scaly skin caused by UV damage to the skin. Actinic keratoses are a precursor to various types of skin cancer. They are most often seen in adults over 40 and individuals who live in sunny climates, work outdoors, or who use sun lamps and tanning beds.
A pre-cancerous skin lesion, such as acitinic keratosis, develops when the skin is repeatedly exposed to UV rays. Over time, the skin becomes unable to repair the damage caused by the rays, and the skin becomes thick, crusty, and scaly.
Individuals who have fair skin, hair, and eyes have less natural melanin to protect their skin from UV rays and are more likely to develop pre-cancerous skin lesions. Individuals who have a weakened immune system, medical conditions that increase sensitivity to UV rays, or who work with coal, tar, or other substances that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are also prone to developing pre-cancerous skin lesions.
An OC dermatologist and skin cancer specialist and surgeon like Dr. Tony Nakhla can diagnose such a lesion susceptible to skin cancer, by performing a visual examination of the skin. If a suspicious lesion is identified, a biopsy may be used to determine if the growth is cancerous.
Actinic keratoses are normally treated using outpatient procedures or home therapies.