Solar keratosis refers to thick bumps that appear on the skin and are scaly with a crusty tip. They are also known senile keratosis or more formally as actinic keratosis. They mostly occur in light-skinned people due to the absence of enough melanin to protect the skin from sunlight damage. This type of keratosis is mainly caused by over-exposure to sunlight which is common for people who are exposed to the sun for long durations of time. The condition is also common to people who are over forty years old. This is usually regardless of when they got exposed because the keratosis may happen many years later.
Solar keratosis are by far the most dangerous form of keratosis since when left unchecked, they may degenerate into malignant skin cancer. The specific cancer that forms as a result of actinic keratosis is referred to as squamous cell carcinoma. This cancer is not known to spread to other parts of the body and treatment is available with a surgical removal of the keratosis.
Solar keratosis is very common affecting almost half of the entire world’s population. Prevalence of this form of keratosis is highly dependent on skin tone, age and location of the people. It is also more likely for people who are on medication that leads to a weakened immune system. These people with reduced immunity are 250 times more prone to this condition and it may lead to squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer).
Actinic keratosis is prevented the same way that ordinary skin cancer is. The preventive measure includes limiting exposure to sunlight for prolonged periods. Another preventive measure is to apply powerful sunscreen especially those with SPF ratings above 30. They should also block all harmful forms of light. Wearing protective clothing that shields the skin from exposure to the sun such as hats, trousers or long sleeved shirts is the other protective measure. People who are prone to sun damage such as holiday makers should ensure that in addition to applying sunscreen, they also implement measures such as using umbrellas. Avoiding sunlight during midday hours should also be a priority since that is the time of the day that ultraviolet light is at its most powerful.
Solar keratosis is not very distinguishable especially in its early stages since there is no clear demarcation to show the area of the keratosis. When it starts to grow into a bump, a dermatologist is able to identify it and a biopsy may be taken to determine whether the growth is cancerous. Treatment is then recommended by the dermatologist after a test is done on the tissue collected from the keratosis growth.
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