An actinic keratosis is a scaly spot found on sun-damaged skin. It is also known as solar keratosis. It is considered precancerous or an early form of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
People who get AKs usually have fair skin. Most people see their first AKs after 40 years of age because AKs tend to develop after years of sun exposure. AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms. Because an AK can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), treatment is important.
Characteristics of AK include:
An AK forms when the skin is badly damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or indoor tanning. Most people get more than one AK. When you have more than one AK, you have actinic keratoses, or AKs.
Anyone who has many AKs should be under a dermatologist’s care. Most people who have many AKs continue to get new AKs for life. AKs are considered precancerous. Left untreated, AKs may turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
By seeing a dermatologist for checkups, the AKs can be treated before they become skin cancer. If skin cancer does develop, it can be caught early when treatment often cures skin cancer.
Screening for Skin Cancer is an important step in prevention. Learn how to identify different skin cancers.