Actinic keratosis is a rough, scaly patch on the skin that develops from years of sun exposure. It's often found on the face, lips, ears, forearms, scalp, neck or back of the hands. Actinic keratoses are scaly spots or patches on the top layer of skin. With time they may become hard with a wartlike surface.
Actinic keratosis grows slowly and usually first appears in people over 40. You can reduce your risk of this skin condition by minimizing your sun exposure and protecting your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Left untreated, the risk of actinic keratoses turning into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma is about 5% to 10%.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
It can be difficult to distinguish between noncancerous spots and cancerous ones. So it's best to have new skin changes evaluated by a healthcare provider — especially if a scaly spot or patch persists, grows, or bleeds.