An actinic keratosis (AK) forms on skin that has been badly damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays. The sun and indoor tanning expose us to these harmful rays. If you have been diagnosed with AKs, dermatologists recommend the following:
Protect your skin from the sun. By protecting your skin from the sun, you can help prevent new AKs from forming. This also will help make your treatment more effective. Dermatologists offer these tips to their patients who have AKs:
To see how well your clothes will protect you, hold each garment in front of bright light. If you see light through the cloth, harmful light from the sun can penetrate the cloth. You should select another garment. You also could wear that garment but apply sunscreen first to the skin that the garment will cover.
Do not use tanning beds or other indoor tanning devices. Tanning beds and sun lamps emit UV rays that can be stronger than the rays from the sun. This can cause new AKs.
Check your skin as often as your dermatologist recommends. If you notice a growth on your skin that has any of the following traits, contact your dermatologist right away:
Keep all appointments with your dermatologist. Left untreated, AKs can turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. With early detection and treatment, skin cancer has a high cure rate.
Because AKs develop on skin that has been badly damaged by UV rays, you also have a higher risk for developing other types of skin cancer, including melanoma. Keeping your appointments helps to find skin cancer early when a cure is likely.
Realize that new AKs may form. AKs form on badly damaged skin. Some people will continue to develop new AKs for life, even when they protect their skin from the sun. This does not mean that sun protection and treatment are not working.