Actinic keratosis describes a skin disorder where a scaly patch appears. The skin becomes rough to the touch and usually affects the ears, lips, face, neck, forearms, and the back of the hands.
The patch grows in size over time, with most people failing to notice the early onset of the condition. Actinic keratosis can take years to develop, with signs of the skin disorder first manifesting in individuals over 40-years of age.
Actinic keratosis lesions grow to a size of around an inch in diameter and sometimes have a wart-like appearance. In most cases, they are pink, red, or brown in color, and have a crusty, “pasted-on” visual characteristic. Some individuals may find the lesion becomes itchy, especially after exposure to strong sunlight.
There are many different reasons why someone would develop this condition, environmental and genetic factors play a significant role in the development of this skin disorder. Here are eight causes of actinic keratosis.
1. UV Exposure from Sunlight
Over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is the first and most obvious cause of actinic keratosis. Sunlight is necessary for human survival. Our skin produces Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, a vital micronutrient that assists the body with the regulation of calcium, a critical nutrient for optimal development of the skeletal system.
However, when we receive too much UV exposure, or skin starts to burn. A sunburn disrupts the normal function of skin cells, producing severe inflammation. Strong UV exposure also damages the genetic material in skin cells. Persistent UV exposure and frequent sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer, such as melanoma.
It’s important to note that actinic keratosis is not skin cancer. The condition may be irritating and unsightly, but it’s not life-threatening. Actinic keratosis is also known as “solar keratosis,” and doctors may have to remove the growth using cryo-surgery, electro-surgery, or merely cutting it out of the skin.