What is actinic or ‘solar’ keratosis?

An actinic keratosis (AK) is also known as a ‘solar’ keratosis. It has the appearance of a crusty, scaly growth and is caused by  damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation; something we see a lot of in Queensland! Can it cause skin cancer? Actinic keratosis is considered a pre cancer because if  it’s left alone it may develop into a skin cancer, most often the second most common form of the disease, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). What causes solar keratosis? Sun exposure! Queensland has the dubious title of the ‘skin cancer capital of the world’, having the highest rates of skin cancer thanks to our high year-round UV levels, outdoor lifestyle and the predominance of people with light skin colour in our population. The most common type of precancerous skin lesion, actinic keratosis appear on skin that has been regularly exposed to the sun or artificial sources of UV light, such as tanning machines. Where does actinic keratosis form on the body? They most frequently appear on exposed areas such as the face and body, including the scalp, ears, shoulders, neck, arms and back of hands. They can also appear on the shin, ankles and feet. Which skin types are more likely to develop solar keratosis? People who have fair complexions are more prone to AKs than are people with medium or dark skin. What does solar keratosis look like? They are often elevated, rough in texture and resemble warts or scabs. They often become red, and can range in colour from  light or dark beige, white or pink. They can also change colour. In...