The medical definition of a keratotic horn is a protruding keratotic growth of the skin linked to keratosis. Just as the name suggests, a keratotic horn mostly has its origin in a form of skin keratosis. A keratotic horn is when keratosis causes a lesion on the skin of an affected person that has a well-defined conical shape. The horns are mostly found on the exposed skin of skin keratosis patients. Several types of keratosis are found at the base of a keratotic horn such as squamous cell carcinoma, actinic keratosis and seborrheic keratosis. About 20% of keratotic horns have a malignant tendency which means that they may become cancerous. Research indicates that a keratotic horn is common among people who have had a history of lesions on the skin that are either malignant or pre-malignant.
Keratosis is a common source of skin growths and lesions but not all of them cause horns. Keratotic horns require medical attention since they are considered to be pre-cancerous. The treatment of the horns may involve measures like simple application of a cream. For other extreme cases, surgery is usually done where the growth is removed. Other methods of treatment include laser removal of the growths and even measures like freeze drying treatment.
As a general rule, any form of skin keratosis should be treated as soon as possible since the results are usually better. Recurrence of the growths is minimal when the condition is treated early. When keratotic horns are formed, this is an indication that the condition is at an advanced stage. This may also mean that if the underlying type of keratosis is precancerous such as actinic keratosis, it may have already reached the cancerous stage. At this point the condition is known as squamous cell carcinoma which is a form of skin cancer. The only remedy for this advanced stage is surgery, radiation treatment or a combination of both.
The base of the keratotic horn may be nodular, crater-like or flat. The horn is composed of an accumulation of compact keratin and must have an underlying condition. Over time, several lesions have been known to be found at the base of the horn. It is usually necessary to do a histologic confirmation to determine whether the cause of the horn is pre-cancerous. There is no physical factor that distinguishes whether the lesion is malignant or benign. There is a tendency of the horns that have a tender base to be cancerous but it is not always the case.
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