Actinic keratosis is characterized by rough, scaly patches on the skin which develops due to years of exposure to the sun. It commonly occurs on the face, ears, lips, back of hands, scalp or neck, i.e. those parts that are exposed to the sun. The lesion tends to enlarge slowly and more often has no manifestations other than a patch on the skin.
Actinic keratosis is rather common, afflicting half of the total population. It is commoner in fair-skinned people, and incidence tends to vary depending up on age and geographical location. Those on immune suppressive drugs are at a bigger risk of developing the condition. Experts believe actinic keratosis to be precancerous, given that, it can develop in to skin cancer. Some are known to progress in to squamous cell carcinoma; thus treatment is essential. Untreated cases have a 20 % risk of developing in to squamous cell carcinoma.
What Causes Actinic Keratosis?
Constant and / or intense exposure to UV rays from the sun triggers actinic keratosis. The lesion commences in the epidermis. The epidermis provides a protecting layer which the body repeatedly sheds. Usually, skin cells in the epidermis replicate in a methodical and controlled fashion. New cells push old cells towards the surface, where they die and get eliminated.
When skin cells get damaged by the UV rays, alterations occur in the color and texture of the skin, resulting in blotchiness and lesions. Damage results from exposure to the sun’s UV rays and it adds up over time, consequently, the more time you spend in the sun or in a tanning booth, higher is the peril of developing these lesions. Risk increases if most of the outdoor exposure occurs those times when the sun rays are most intense.
Actinic Keratosis Symptoms
- Rough, scaly patches of the skin, about one 1 inch in diameter.
- Flat or slightly raised patches.
- Gradually, tough, wart-like lesions develop.
- Lesions may be flesh colored or pink or brown.
- Burning and Itching.
- Common sites are: face, ears, lips, back of your hands, scalp and neck.
- If just scratched or picked off, it returns.
Home Remedies For Actinic Keratosis
- Limit sun exposure. Suntan and sunburn damage the skin and increase the danger of developing actinic keratosis and skin cancer. Sun exposure built up over many years causes it. Fix time limits at the beach or pool. Snow, water and ice reflect and intensify the sun’s harmful rays. Furthermore, UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use sunscreen, it reduces the development of actinic keratosis. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours if you swim or sweat.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, wear sun shades and a broad-brimmed hat.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Check your skin on a regular basis and report changes to your health care provider.
- In case of sun damage step up your intake of vitamin A, E and C rich foods; they help protect the skin and decrease damage. You may also consider taking supplements.
- Blend 3 drops of lavender essential oil in 3 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and apply over the affected parts. This blend will allay redness, itching and irritation rapidly and successfully.