Actinic Keratosis

Overview of Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis affects adults over age 40. It is an easily treatable disease. At least once in a lifetime, an adult can develop Actinic Keratosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis

A skin condition caused by the UV rays from the sun is called Actinic Keratosis (AK).
It is a very common pre-cancer formed due to the damaged skin by chronic exposure to UV rays and/or sometimes from indoor tanning.
Solar Keratosis is the second name for actinic keratosis. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can lead to the development of actinic keratosis (plural) in the future. This means that the risk of getting skin cancer is higher.
It is one of the most common skin conditions that affect people over age 40.

Appearance of Actinic Keratosis

The appearance of AK varies depending on the stage of prognosis. It is mostly found on the sites on the skin, where sun exposure is longest such as the face, hands, and arms. On the face areas such as lips, nose, ears, forehead are affected.
The most prominent features are:

  • Red or pigmented skin (light, dark tan, or a combination of colors)
  • Tender or asymptomatic
  • A flat or thickened papule or plaque
  • White or yellow; scaly, warty, or horny surface
  • Rough texture
  • Easier to feel than see

AK on the lower lip is known as actinic cheilitis.

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Types of Actinic Keratosis

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Itching and burning in the affected area
  • Hard, wart-like surface
  • Hard to touch
  • A rough, dry, scaly patch of skin
  • Coloured skin
  • Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the skin
  • Sometimes a cluster of patches
  • Horny growth on the skin
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If left untreated, actinic keratosis can, later on, develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Individuals are at risk if they have:

  • History of unprotected exposure
  • Geographic location; live in a sunny area
  • Weakened immune system
  • Fair skin
  • Age over 40
  • Tend to freckle, when exposed to sunlight

Health Complications of Actinic Keratosis

With early treatment, actinic keratosis can be easily treated and removed from the skin before they develop into cancer.

  • If left untreated, it develops into squamous cell carcinoma
  • Cutaneous horn may arise
  • Basal cell carcinoma can also develop
  • Chances of melanoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma may develop as well


The best possible preventive measures for actinic keratosis are as follows:

  • Avoid unguarded and prolonged exposures to sunlight
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen every day
  • Do not visit tanning salons, sun lamps or tanning beds frequently
  • Remember to wear long-sleeve shirts and avoid wearing shorts
  • Use sunscreen which blocks both UVB and UVA light
  • Wear a hat that covers your ears and not just your hair
  • Choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen
  • Reapply the sunscreen during humid weather conditions

Treatment of Actinic Keratosis | When to Consult a Doctor

A diagnosis is given by the doctor by simply examining the skin. If there is a doubt, a skin biopsy might be performed.

Doctors to treat Actinic Keratosis

Last updated on Wednesday 23/11/2022


Dr. Asif Rauf

Cosmetologist, Dermatologist | MBBS

Cosmolux ( The Hair & Skin Clinic )Rs 2000


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Highly Recommended


Dr. Farrukh Aslam

Cosmetologist | MBBS, FCPS, BFIRST Fellow, MRCPS, FACS

LaForma ClinicRs 1500


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Dr farukh is a kind man he listen whatever i said and then he diagnosed me the treatment of my issue


Dr. Aamir Chhipa

Cosmetologist, Dermatologist | MBBS, DCDD

Dr Aamir Skin ClinicRs 1000


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I am very satisfied with the overall doctor's experience.

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