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Actinic Keratosis

Overview

A precancerous skin growth usually caused by sun exposure.


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Causes

Actinic keratosis occurs most commonly in fair skin, especially in the elderly and in young individuals with light complexions.The growths occur in sun-exposed skin areas. The growths begin as flat scaly areas that later develop a hard wart-like surface.They are classified as precancerous growths. Approximately 20% of actinic keratoses develop into squamous cell carcinoma.Associated conditions include senile skin, solar elastosis, and other sun-induced skin changes.


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Signs & Symptoms

rough and dry textured skin lesion- a macule, patch, or growth on the skin- limited to a discrete area (localized)- located on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest or other sun-exposed areas- color gray, pink, red (erythematous), or the same color as the skin- surface is initially flat and scaly, then becomes slightly raised- surface texture becomes hard and wartlike or gritty, rough, and sandpapery; may develop a horn-like texture fromovergrowth of skin keratin layer (hyperkeratosis)- loss of elasticity on sun-exposed areasNote: The skin lesion may be easier to feel than to see.

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Prevention

Minimize sun exposure.Protect skin from the sun: wear protective clothing such as hats, long sleeved shirts, long skirts, or pants. Ultraviolet light ismost intense midday, so try to avoid exposure during these hours. Use high-quality sunscreens, preferably with SPF (sunprotection factor) ratings of at least 15. Apply sunscreen at least half an hour before exposure, and reapply frequently.Sunscreens should be used for persons of all ages and skin types. Use sunscreen for winter exposure also. Avoid certainmedications, especially some antibiotics (e.g. Achromycin and tetracyclines).


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Treatments
Medications Naturopathy

Because actinic keratoses represent precancerous changes, have them examined promptly and follow the health care provider'sadvice for treatment.Growths may be removed by cryotherapy (freezing), electrical cautery (burning), or surgery. Growths may also be treated with topical medications that cause peeling or skin removal.

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