Actinic Keratosis (AK) is caused by excessive sun damage to the skin. Areas of the skin that are affected by AK are visually abnormal, red, thick, and scaly or rough in texture. Actinic Keratosis is most common in men, people who spend a lot of time outside, have fair skin, freckles, and are prone to burn in the sun. AK is also more prominent in older people as it is characterized by the accumulation of sun damage that has occurred over time. This condition is typically seen on the scalp, face, side of the neck, backs of hands and legs. Though most cases of actinic keratosis are benign, some will develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Therefore, it is best to always treat AK in order to minimize the risk of this progression.
In order to prevent the development of actinic keratosis, it is best to protect your skin from the sun. The regular use of sunscreen is within a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 is recommended. Treatment of existing AK includes excision, the use of topical creams and laser resurfacing.