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Solar Keratosis

A solar keratosis is a small, rough, bump 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.

Solar keratoses are mostly found on sites repeatedly exposed to the sun especially the backs of the hands and the face, most often affecting the nose, cheeks, upper lip, temples and forehead. On the lips they are known as "actinic cheilitis". They are especially common in fair-skinned persons or those who have worked outdoors for long periods. Sun-damaged skin is also dry and wrinkled.

Cause of Solar Keratosis

Sunlight contains ultraviolet light which is responsible for tanning of the skin, sunburn and skin cancers. Over the years, the skin is exposed to considerable amounts of ultraviolet light. Eventually, the amount of exposure exceeds the level which the skin can tolerate. Both pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions then develop. The body's protection against ultraviolet light damage is skin pigment. People with pale complexions, and who burn badly in sunlight, tend to develop solar keratoses more easily than people who tan easily, or who have naturally dark skin.

Symptoms of Solar Keratosis

Each one 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 crust. They feel rough and dry, and are slightly raised from the surface of the skin. You can often feel them more easily than see them. Some redness may develop in the surrounding skin.

Treatment of Solar Keratosis

Treatment of a solar keratosis requires removal of the defective skin cells. New skin then forms from deeper cells which have escaped sun damage. Skin cancers can usually readily be treated if they are detected at an early stage.

  • A freezing gun treatment (cryotherapy) is just one of several ways to get rid of a solar keratosis.
  • They can also be cut out (curettage), given laser treatment or treated with drugs in a cream form. This cream contains a drug called a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory or NSAID, which has been used for years in pain relief, and is often the best choice when a large area of skin is affected.

What is Keratosis?

It is a circumscribed hyperplasia of the stratum corneum (horny layer) of the skin, eg senile keratosis, arsenical, seborrhoeic keratosis. Keratosis have a predisposition to malignancy. Follicular keratosis is seen in lichen spinulosus, have a predisposition to malignancy. Follicular keratosis follicularis, Vitamin A, Vitamin C or fatty acid deficiencies, pityriasis rubra pilaris, Darier's disease, lichen planopilaris, lichen scrofulosorum, etc.

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