Actinic keratosis (AK) is a rough, scaly growth on the skin that develops after years of exposure to harmful UV rays. This type of growth on the skin is considered precancerous because if left untreated, it can develop into skin cancer. In most cases, when one patch is discovered, more spots are growing as well, which is why it is often referred to in the plural form—keratoses. Do you think you may have actinic keratoses? Read on to find out if you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Actinic keratoses appear on parts of the skin which are frequently exposed to the sun. They are most commonly found on the scalp, face, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and lower legs. They are also more common in fair-skinned people over the age of 40. AKs usually start out very small and gradually grow bigger— in many cases they are felt before they are seen. The skin may begin to feel rough and dry, like sandpaper.
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