What is a solar keratosis?
A solar keratosis is a small, thickened, scaly growth (or lump) which develops on the skin. It is caused by a lot of exposure to the sun over many years. One or more may develop. It is sometimes called an actinic keratosis.
What does a solar keratosis look like?
Each can range from the size of a pinhead to 2-3 cm across. Their colour can be light, dark, pink, red, the same colour as your skin, or a combination of these. The top of each one may have a yellow-white, scaly crust.
Solar keratosis usually develop on areas of skin which have been exposed to the sun a lot. For example, on the face, neck, ears, bald patches on the scalp and the backs of the hands. They may also appear in other areas (such as the back, chest and legs) in people who do a lot of sunbathing. There are usually no other symptoms. Rarely, you may get an itchy or prickling sensation from affected areas of skin.
Are solar keratosis dangerous?
In themselves, solar keratoses are not cancerous and do no harm. But, they can sometimes be unsightly. Also, up to about a quarter of solar keratosis will clear away by themselves without any treatment over the course of one year.
What is the treatment for solar keratosis?
- No treatment may be an option
- Freezing a solar keratosis with liquid nitrogen
- A cream or gel
- Photodynamic therapy
Can solar keratosis be prevented?
- Stay out of strong sunlight. In particular avoid sun between 11am and 3pm.
- Seek natural shade in the form of trees or other shelter.
- Wear clothes as a sunscreen including T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.
- Use a broad spectrum sun screen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to protect against UVB and UVA.