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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Actinic Keratosis
      Category : Health Centers > Skin Conditions

Actinic Keratosis

Alternate Names : Solar Keratosis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Actinic keratosis is a common premalignant skin lesion seen on areas of the body that have been exposed to sun. Premalignant means that the lesions have the potential to become skin cancer.

What is going on in the body?

Sun damage over many years causes changes in the skin. When the cells start to grow in an irregular and unusual fashion, actinic keratosis may develop. The lesions are not true deep or invasive skin cancers, but the area of skin is no longer normal.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Actinic keratosis is caused by long-term exposure to the sun. The number of lesions increases with age. A person with light skin has a higher risk of developing actinic keratosis. Someone who works outdoors, such as a lifeguard or construction worker, is at greater risk. Certain antibiotics, such as tetracycline, increase a person's risk.

People with altered immune systems are also at increased risk for actinic keratosis. This group includes:

  • people with HIV or other acquired immunodeficiency disorders
  • children born with immunodeficiency disorders
  • individuals who are taking powerful immunosuppressive medicines after organ transplants
  • persons who are taking chemotherapy for treatment of cancer or other disorders


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    Actinic Keratosis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Lynn West, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/20/01

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