SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
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The signs and symptoms of an actinic keratosis include:
- Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
- Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
- In some cases, a hard, wart-like surface
- Color ranging from pink to red to brown, or flesh-colored
- Itching or burning in the affected area
Actinic keratoses are found primarily on areas exposed to the sun, including your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp and neck.
An actinic keratosis sometimes resolves on its own, but typically returns again after additional sun exposure. If just scratched or picked off, an actinic keratosis will return.
When to see a doctor
Because it can be difficult to distinguish between noncancerous spots and cancerous ones, it's best to have new skin changes evaluated by a doctor, especially if a spot or lesion persists, grows or bleeds. See your doctor or ask for a referral to a dermatologist if a skin lesion:
- Is painful
- Itches or burns
- Oozes or bleeds
- Becomes scaly or crusty
- Changes in size, shape, color or elevation
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- Actinic keratoses. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/sun_actinic.html. Accessed Oct. 28, 2010.
- Shoimer I, et al. Current management of actinic keratoses. Skin Therapy Letter. 2010;15:5.
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- Sunscreens/sunblocks. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/sun_sunscreens.html. Accessed Oct. 28, 2010.