The signs and symptoms of an actinic keratosis include:
- Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
- Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
- In some cases, a hard, wart-like surface
- Color as varied as pink, red or brown, or flesh-colored
- Itching or burning in the affected area
Actinic keratoses are found primarily on areas exposed to the sun, including your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp and neck.
When to see a doctor
Because it can be difficult to distinguish between noncancerous spots and cancerous ones, it's best to have new skin changes evaluated by a doctor — especially if a spot or lesion persists, grows or bleeds.
Feb. 08, 2014
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Aug. 15, 2013.
- Padilla RS. Epidemiology, natural history and diagnosis of actinic keratosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 15, 2013.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 15, 2013.
- Actinic keratosis. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/actinic-keratosis. Accessed Aug. 15, 2013.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 20, 2013.
- Jorizzo J. Treatment of actinic keratosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 15, 2013.
- FDA sheds light on sunscreens. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm258416.htm. Accessed Aug. 15, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.