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Doctor insights on: Actinic Keratosis

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Is a small rough whitish patch of skin always actinic keratosis?

Is a small rough whitish patch of skin always actinic keratosis?

No: A rough white patch of skin could be attributed to many possibilities including sun damage, actinic keratosis, eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, superficial skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma), tinea (fungal infection). ...Read more

Dr. Mike Bowman
957 Doctors shared insights

Skin Cancer (Definition)

A condition in which some element of your skin--which is one of the most complex organs in the body--degenerates into cancer. The three most common types of skin cancer are: basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma which occur in that order and degree of aggressiveness. Although heredity plays a major role, sun exposure and tobacco use and ...Read more


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What are symptoms of actinic keratosis?

What are symptoms of actinic keratosis?

Actinic Keraotsis: Actinic keratoses arise in chronically sun exposed sites, such as the backs of the hands, forearms and face. They usually present as rough scaly or crusty slightly red bumps on the skin. Sometimes, these lesions can be felt more than they can be seen. A rough patch on a sun exposed area may all that you notice. ...Read more

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Living with Skin Cancer (Checklist)

Avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm
daily
Apply sunscreen
2x day
Wear a hat outdoors on sunny days
daily
See a dermatologist for checkups
2x year
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How is actinic keratosis usually diagnosed?

How is actinic keratosis usually diagnosed?

Clinical exam: Actinic keratoses are early precancerous lesions caused primarily by sun exposure over time. They are usually diagnosed by your dermatologist on clinical exam. In some cases a more advanced lesion may be biopsied to make sure it has not progressed to skin cancer. ...Read more

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Treating Seborrheic Keratosis (Checklist)

Exercise
Daily
Maintain a healthy weight
Once
Control your cholesterol
Once
If you have diabetes, keep it under control
Once
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Is actinic keratosis a real problem? Can I treat it with aldara (imiquimod)?

Is actinic keratosis a real problem? Can I treat it with aldara (imiquimod)?

Possibly: Actinic keratosis (ak) is a sign that your skin has had excessive sun exposure. It may represent a "pre-cancerous" lesion as some will become skin cancers eventually. If you have ak's then you should have a thorough check up by a dermatologist to be sure you don't already have skin cancer and you can get advice on how best to treat your ak's. ...Read more

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What are some over-the-counter treatments for actinic keratosis?

None: Unfortunately there is no studied over the counter treatment for actinic keratosis (ak). Since ak is a form of precancer, it is important to have it treated before it progresses. ...Read more

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Treating a Skin Abscess (Checklist)

Clean the abscess thoroughly
Once
If the abscess is draining on its own, cover it and regularly change the dressing
Once
See your doctor if the abscess is not draining or has redness around it
Once
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Is it possible to get actinic keratosis on an area of skin that has had little sun damage?

Is it possible to get actinic keratosis on an area of skin that has had little sun damage?

Yes: It is common on face, scalp and arms, but can oocur on the legs, back or. Chest. Sun is major factor but light skin color and weakened local immune system are also factors. These are treatable with cream, cryosurgery, electrosurgery. ...Read more

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Who is at generally risk for actinic keratosis?

Who is at generally risk for actinic keratosis?

H/o sunburns: Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions caused by excessive sun exposure. The more sunburns you've had, the more risk of developing ak's. ...Read more

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Treating Dry Skin (Checklist)

Use moisturizers regularly
Once
Use mild soap when washing your skin
Once
Limit overexposure to detergents or soaps
Once
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What % of actinic keratosis are pre-cancerous? How long would it take one to turn into cancer?

What % of actinic keratosis are pre-cancerous? How long would it take one to turn into cancer?

All and variable: Actinic keratosis by definition is precancerous, however not all lesions turn into cancer and there is variable rate of progression. Treatment of the lesion can prevent progression and development of cancer. Please note that some people consider actinic keratosis to be a form of cancer. ...Read more

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What is actinic keratosis?

What is actinic keratosis?

Pre-cancer: Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous skin lesion. It's a scaly area that feels sharp, like sandpaper or a glass shard, when you rub your finger over it. If untreated, it can become a squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. It is usually from sun damage. To treat it, liquid nitrogen or a cream called effudex is applied. Avoid sun exposure to avoid this! ...Read more

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Treating Skin Allergies (Checklist)

Use hydrocortisone
2x day
Do not use diphenhydramine topical cream
once
Avoid the offending agent (s)
once
Find out if you are allergic to nickel, as nickel is often the cause of skin allergies
once
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What are symptoms of actinic keratosis?

Actinic Keraotsis: Actinic keratoses arise in chronically sun exposed sites, such as the backs of the hands, forearms and face. They usually present as rough scaly or crusty slightly red bumps on the skin. Sometimes, these lesions can be felt more than they can be seen. A rough patch on a sun exposed area may all that you notice. ...Read more

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How can I make actinic keratosis go away?

Dermatologist appt: Unfortunately there is no studied over the counter treatment for actinic keratosis (ak). Since ak is a form of precancer, it is important to have it treated before it progresses. There are available treatments through a dermatologist that are effective (some topical, some freezing technique). ...Read more

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How is actinic keratosis usually diagnosed?

Clinical exam: Actinic keratoses are early precancerous lesions caused primarily by sun exposure over time. They are usually diagnosed by your dermatologist on clinical exam. In some cases a more advanced lesion may be biopsied to make sure it has not progressed to skin cancer. ...Read more

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What does actinic keratosis usually look like?

Scaly red papules: Actinic keratosis is a premalignant lesion that over time can evolve into squamous or basal cell carcinomas. They are usually small persistent crusty or scaly pink-red bumps. These are typically treated with liquid nitrogen destruction or topical creams such as Efudex or aldara (imiquimod). ...Read more

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Treating Skin Tags (Checklist)

Do not treat them yourself
Once
Avoid picking at them
Once
Have them removed by a doctor if needed
Once
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Who is at generally risk for actinic keratosis?

H/o sunburns: Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions caused by excessive sun exposure. The more sunburns you've had, the more risk of developing ak's. ...Read more

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Do all cases of actinic keratosis turn into scc?

Do all cases of actinic keratosis turn into scc?

No: In fact, relatively few of them do so. However, if you have been diagnosed with an ak, it is best to make sure you follow the recommended schedule of appointments with the doctor following your skin health. If you notice ulceration, bleeding, itching, or sudden spreading of an ak, get it checked out asap. ...Read more

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Managing Pain from Cancer (Checklist)

Ask an oncologist to refer you to a cancer pain specialist
Once
Ask a pain specialist about both interventional and medication options
Once
If you have pancreatic cancer, ask about a celiac plexus block
Once
If you have neuropathy, request a trial of ketamine-based topical creams
Once
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Does all cases of actinic keratosis need freezing?

Freeze, 5FU, Aldara (imiquimod): Actinic keratosis (ak) is a premalignant condition caused chiefly by sun exposure. If left untreated, ak can progress to squamous cell cancer of the skin. Treatments of ak include freezing using liquid nitrogen; 5-fu chemo cream; immune modifier cream aldara (imiquimod)... ...Read more

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How can I reduce the appearance and the feel of actinic keratosis?

None: Unfortunately there is no studied over the counter treatment for actinic keratosis (ak). Since ak is a form of precancer, it is important to have it treated before it progresses. There are available treatments through a dermatologist that are effective (some topical, some freezing technique). ...Read more

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Is laser actinic keratosis removal possible?

Is laser actinic keratosis removal possible?

Yes: Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure. Various treatments can be used, including liquid nitrogen (freezing), topical creams (imiquimod, fluoruracil, others), curettage (scraping), and medium-depth chemical peels. Laser treatments include co2 laser ablation and photodynamic therapy (laser treatment after application of a medication to the skin). ...Read more

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Is a small rough whitish patch of skin always actinic keratosis?

No: A rough white patch of skin could be attributed to many possibilities including sun damage, actinic keratosis, eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, superficial skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma), tinea (fungal infection). ...Read more

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I heard actinic keratosis is pre-cancerous. How long would it take one to turn into ca?

I heard actinic keratosis is pre-cancerous. How long would it take one to turn into ca?

Varies: This is like asking how long it takes a child to turn into an adult, in some ways. It takes much longer for a 2 year old to turn into an adult than a teenager. We think it takes a number of years to convert, but I have seen patients treated for an actinic keratosis return with a squamous cancer in that area in less than a year. Was it really an actinic keratosis or was it an early squamous cell? ...Read more

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Is melanoma the same as actinic keratosis?

No.: An actinic keratosis is a premalignant lesion that may progress to develop into a squamous cell carcinoma. A melanoma is a malignant tumor involving the pigment cells (melanocytes) of the skin. ...Read more

Dr. Emily Altman
43 Doctors shared insights

Solar Keratosis (Definition)

The term generally refers to small increased pigment spots on the skin or eyelids. Those with light skin or high sun exposure are usually at higher risk. Usually benign but any noted ...Read more


Dr. James Chapman
236 Doctors shared insights

Keratosis (Definition)

The growth of ...Read more