Also known as solar keratosis, actinic keratosis (AK) is a scaly, crusty skin growth that develops as a result of UV radiation exposure. Patients often experience multiple keratoses (the plural of keratosis). At first appearance, AK may be so small that they can only be found by touch. Your skin may feel as though you are running your fingers over sandpaper. When visible, AK resemble warts and can be white, pink, red, flesh toned, or dark tan.

AK are most likely to appear on skin that has been exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and legs. In most cases, AK develop slowly and, in the beginning, can even disappear for a time before coming back. You may have further AK lesions below the surface of the skin that cannot be seen. While you may feel nothing at all, some AK feel itchy, tender, or inflamed, and can even bleed in some cases.

AK is classified as a pre-skin cancer because it has the potential to develop into a skin cancer if left alone. Like most pre-skin cancers, they are often caused by sun damage from sun exposure and tanning beds.

Early treatment can eliminate nearly all actinic keratoses before they develop into skin cancer. Dr. Michael J. Messina, and our experienced providers, may perform an initial biopsy to determine if an AK is an early cancer. Treatment for AK depends on your age, health, and condition. Dr. Michael J. Messina and our providers will recommend the best possible procedure to address your needs, and options can include:

  • Cryosurgery
  • Curettage and desiccation
  • Topical immunotherapy

To learn more about treating an actinic keratosis in Palm Desert, California, contact Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists at 760-773-6616 and schedule a personal consultation with our dermatologist.