Actinic keratosis (AKs) are white or pink scaly bumps that generally appear on the hands, arms and face. Often they are more easily felt than seen. They may also appear on the upper chest and back, bald areas of the scalp, and even along the rim of the ear. If left untreated, AKs may progress to skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma).
AKs are most commonly caused by repeated or long-term exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Sun damages the DNA in cells and causes skin cells to grow at an abnormally rapid rate. AKs usually occur more frequently in older people with fair skin. There is an added risk for those who spend a lot of time in the sun such as sunbathers, people who use indoor tanning beds, fishermen, farmers, construction workers, lifeguards and gardeners. Proper sun protection is essential when spending time in the sun. The spots usually appear on people between the ages of 40-50.
This information does not replace the advice of a physician nor does it imply a physican – patient relationship between the reader and Dr. Gross.