What is actinic keratosis (ak-TIN-ik ker-uh-TOE-sis)?

keratosis

AK lesions on face
and front part of scalp

Actinic keratosis (AK) is a skin condition that occurs most often on areas of the skin that have been overexposed to and damaged by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun. AK, which is also known as “solar keratosis,” is usually found on the face and front part of the scalp.1,2

AKs often appear as small areas of flaky, scaly roughness on the skin. They may be skin colored or slightly brown, becoming pink or reddish as they get bigger. Many AK lesions are 1 to 3 mm, although they may be larger.2

AKs are considered to be pre-cancerous lesions, so it is very important that they be treated.2

Who is at risk for developing AKs?

The risk for developing AKs increases as people get older. AKs tend to occur in those who1,2:

  • are male
  • have light skin
  • had chronic sun exposure or exposure to UV light from tanning beds
  • had severe sunburns in childhood
  • How are AKs treated?

    There are many therapeutic options; you and your doctor can determine which is appropriate for you. One such option your doctor may prescribe is a topical cream.2

    PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE

    Minimizing exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the most important way that you can protect your skin from sun damage.

    Here are some tips on how to do that.3

  • Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, especially during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm)
  • Use a moisturizer/broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • While exposed to the sunlight, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours as directed
  • When you’re outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing to minimize sunlight exposure