Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis

Ac tini c keratosis is a skin condition that is rough , thickened, and scaly, due to prolonged exposure to sunlight . Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, can also occur due to the use of tanning equipment to darken the skin .

Solar keratosis is generally experienced by people aged 40 years and over and people who often spend a lot of time in the sun for a long time.

Actinic keratosis develops slowly and causes no symptoms. Although rare, this condition has the potential to cause skin cancer .

Causes of Actinic Keratosis _ _

The main cause of actinic keratosis is excessive exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light. In other words, solar keratosis will be more common in people who are often active in direct sunlight, as well as people who like to use tanning beds .

Risk factors for a ctinic keratoses

Actinic keratosis can affect anyone. Even so, a person is more at risk of developing the condition if:

  • Over 40 years old
  • Live in a place that is exposed to the sun
  • Have sensitive skin type
  • Have a weak immune system, for example because you have cancer , HIV/AIDS, or use chemotherapy drugs and immunosuppressant drugs

Symptoms of Actinic K Keratosis

Symptoms of actinic keratosis generally appear on areas of the skin that are often exposed to sunlight. However, not everyone who is frequently exposed to the sun will develop actinic keratosis.

If they do occur, the changes that can occur in the affected skin area are:

  • Rough and thickened skin , it can even become like warts
  • Scaly skin
  • Skin turns red or brown in color
  • Skin feels itchy or hot

This skin disorder usually occurs on the temples, forehead, scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, arms, and backs of the hands. Generally, the affected area due to solar keratosis is 2.5 cm or smaller in diameter.

When to go to the doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience changes in the skin. Patients with actinic keratosis are also advised to see a doctor immediately if they experience symptoms that need to be watched out for, such as:

  • Unusual growth of tissue on the surface of the skin.
  • A new lump or skin tissue appears on the surface of the skin that gets bigger and feels sore or bleeds
  • Have had actinic keratosis before, and you can see new patches on the skin

Diagnosis Actinic Keratosis

First, the doctor will ask the patient's symptoms. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination while paying attention to the area of ​​​​the skin that has abnormalities.

If there is a suspicion that the symptoms are caused by other causes, the dermatologist will perform additional examinations in the form of:

  • Dermoscopy, which is the examination of the skin surface and abnormalities in the skin using a magnifying microscope ( dermatoscope )
  • Biopsy , which is taking a sample of tissue in the patient's skin for further investigation in the laboratory  

Treatment of Actinic K Keratosis

Actinic keratosis usually goes away on its own. Doctors usually simply advise patients to use sunscreen and moisturizer, so that their skin condition does not get worse. This effort also aims to prevent recurrence if the skin is exposed to the sun continuously.

In certain cases, actinic keratosis needs to be treated with drugs, special therapy, and surgery. The type of treatment is determined based on the number of solar keratosis experienced, its thickness and location, as well as the patient's overall health condition.

The following is an explanation of these treatment methods:


Medications are used if there are many actinic keratoses on the surface of the skin. The drug given is a topical medication (oles) in the form of a cream or gel, such as:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory gels (NSAIDs)
  • Fluorouracil cream
  • Salicylic acid ointment
  • imiquimod cream

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

In this procedure, the doctor will apply a chemical to the problem skin. After that, the doctor will use a special lamp to destroy the actinic keratosis.

Please note that this therapy can cause side effects on the skin, such as redness, swelling, and a burning sensation.


In this procedure, the doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove the actinic keratosis. Cryotherapy can cause infection, blisters, and changes in skin texture and color in the area affected by solar keratitis.


In severe cases, surgery with scraping will be recommended by the doctor as a solution to remove damaged skin cells. Initially, the doctor will inject a local anesthetic into the patient, then scrape the damaged cells on the surface of the skin using a curette.

The operation will be followed by electrosurgery , which aims to kill the infected tissue in the body using electricity. This surgery can cause side effects in the form of infection, skin blisters, and changes in skin structure in the operated area.

Complications of A ctinic K keratoses

If treatment has been carried out correctly, solar keratosis rarely causes complications. However, in certain cases, these solar keratotic spots can turn into squamous cell carcinoma .

Squamous cell cancer is a skin cancer that is not life threatening. However, this cancer can spread to other tissues and organs if not treated properly.

Prevention of Actinic K Keratosis

Self-protection from UV rays is very important to prevent the development and recurrence of actinic keratosis. If you are often active in the sun, it is highly recommended to take the following precautions:

  • Use a sunscreen that is waterproof and contains SPF 30 and spread evenly on parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun.
  • Limit activities in direct sunlight between 10 am to 3 pm, because the ultraviolet rays emitted are very high.
  • Protect your skin from the sun with long sleeves, long pants, socks, closed shoes, jackets and hats.
  • Avoid using tanning beds . These tanning tools can emit ultraviolet rays and radiation that can damage the skin.
  • Perform regular skin checks if you have skin problems so that they can be treated immediately if symptoms of solar keratosis are detected.
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