Solar keratosis is also known as actinic keratosis and is characterized by patches on the skin which are thick, crusty and scaly. Solar keratosis is a premalignant condition meaning that the patches on the skin have the potential of turning cancerous if left untreated. Solar keratosis is quite common to those people who have very fair and soft skin and like exposing themselves to the sun a lot hence its name. If the lesions caused by this condition are left unchecked for a long time, they have a 20% chance of becoming cancerous. The growth normally starts out as a scaly area that is flat. It later develops into a wart that is dry and rough. The size of a normal solar keratosis lesion is between 2 and 6 millimeters.
The color of the lesion can be pink, red, light, tan, dark or a combination of all these colors. These lesions are commonly found on areas that are constantly exposed to sunlight. These parts include ears, face, neck, chest, scalp, forearms, lips and back of the hands.
Prevention of solar keratosis
Prevention of solar keratosis is possible. The recommendations given for prevention are not different from those of skin cancer. They include:
Use of protection when staying out in the sun too long: Protection in this case means using sunscreen, hats or other forms of clothing that will prevent ultra violet rays from directly hitting your skin.
Avoid sunlight all together: Do not stay in the sun if you do not have to so as to avoid any unnecessary exposure to the UV rays. This is the most important point in prevention of solar keratosis.
Treatment of solar keratosis
Solar keratosis is treatable if it is diagnosed early i.e. before the lesions turn cancerous. Some of the treatment methods include:
Cryosurgery: This can be done by freezing off the lesions using liquid nitrogen. It is the most common treatment and has cured many cases of solar keratosis.
Diclofenac sodium: Diclofenac sodium is a drug that has no steroids and is used to treat inflammatory in the body. The recommended duration which you are supposed to use this drug is between 60 to 90 days.
Photodynamic therapy: This is a newly invented form of therapy and involves the injection of chemicals directly into the bloodstream. This effectively makes the lesions sensitive to any form of light.
Electrocautery: This involves using electricity to burn off the lesions. It is also a very common procedure and has recorded very successful results.