How to Spot an Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratoses typically occur on the face, lips, ears, bald scalp, shoulders, neck and back of the hands and forearms. Ranging in size from a tiny spot to as much as an inch in diameter, AKs usually appear as small crusty or scaly bumps or “horns.” The base can be dark or light skin-colored and may have additional colors such as tan, pink and red. Symptoms of actinic cheilitis, a variant of AK that appears on the lower lip, may include chapping, cracks and whitish discoloration.
Examples of typical actinic keratoses are shown here, so examine your skin regularly for lesions that look like them. But it’s not always that simple: Many actinic keratoses have quite a different appearance, so if you find any unusual or changing growth, be suspicious and see your doctor promptly.
Mark Lebwohl, MD
Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD