What is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic Keratosis is known as a skin ailment which causes small, rough and bumpy, reddish bumps on the surface of the skin. This is usually caused due to excessive sun exposure but it’s not considered the sole cause so far. The bumps cause a lot of irritation and are quite rough in texture which psychologically affects a lot of people too. They feel they are not good enough and they stop going out in public. Actinic Keratosis is commonly and most apparently found in people with moderately fair to very fair complexion. If not treated properly and in extreme cases it can lead to skin cancer. The disease if picked in earlier stages and treated accordingly it can go away within months.

Actinic keratosis is a common skin lesion caused by sun damage which commonly progresses to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The prevalence of actinic keratosis in Australia has been estimated as 40-50% in those aged 40 years and above Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and it has been suggested that actinic keratosis is in fact SCC in situ.

Some patients report abnormal skin sensations such as pain, itching, burning, or tingling.  Some patients only complain about the abnormal feel or texture of their skin such as granular, gritty, sandy, pointy, or like a nutmeg-grater.  AK’s are often numerous, and sometimes they can be felt more easily than seen.

Actinic keratosis invades the skin basement membrane and as such may progress to invasive SCC. It is difficult to distinguish actinic keratosis and SCC as superficially they appear similar. This however means that there is an increased tendency for them to go unrecognized or to be inaccurately diagnosed.