Keratosis is also known as (AK) actinic keratosis, solar keratosis and cutaneous horns. These uncomfortable and unsightly skin conditions are most commonly seen in persons with pale skin and blue or green eyes. Keratosis is considered to be caused by excess sun exposure and is seen most commonly on the most exposed areas of the skin including the face, the arms, the nose and ears.
Keratosis develops into dry patches of skin with a red base covered with white or yellow scales. Cutaneous horns may also develop which protrude from the skin in a hornlike fashion. Keratosis is considered to be a precancerous skin condition that should be treated as early as possible in order to stop the risk of cancer. There is a 5 to 10% chance of keratosis developing into cancer such as melanoma skin cancer. Persons who have enjoyed excess sun bathing are at a greater risk of developing keratosis.
Persons with an altered immune system, those who have received an organ transplant and persons who have been treated for psoriasis using the chemical psoralens are also at greater risk of developing keratosis patches of dry skin. Keratosis will sometimes vanish during its early stages if the patient avoids sun exposure. Keratosis removal cream can be prescribed by physicians for early treatment of keratosis.
Keratosis that has developed over time without treatment may need to be treated with a surgical procedure. Keratosis is also accompanied by additional consequences of excess sun exposure including wrinkles and sunspots. Sun exposure will need to be avoided in the future in order to prevent any further outbreaks of keratosis. Fair skinned individuals should use sun protection and avoid direct exposure to the sun as much as possible in order to eliminate the risk of developing keratosis.
Keratosis most often affects persons who have spent years bathing excessively in the sun. It may also affect children and teenagers in the form of bumps that appear on the arms, thighs and buttocks; this form of keratosis pilaris is not considered to be caused by the sun and can be treated with a topical cream. Keratosis which is caused by the sun is unattractive and painful.
Find out more about the various types of keratosis on the following pages.