Actinic keratosis, also known as A.K.S., are precancerous conditions of the skin. When I say precancer that is really meaning basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. These tend to develop in fair skinned individuals and more commonly on sun exposed areas.
The signs of actinic keratosis is a rough adherent scale. What most patients are going to describe them as is basically a scab that just does not want to fall off, and sometimes if they scratch it hard enough it can bleed. Approximately 10 to 30% of these can go on to develop into non-melanoma skin cancer.
Prevention of actinic keratosis is best achieved through sun protective measures. First is sunscreen. Now the important thing to know about sunscreen, that a lot of people do not know, is that S.P.F. tells you only how much U.V.B. rays it protects you from. Now that doesn’t tell you about how much U.V.A. it protects you from and U.V.A is equally causative of these. So it’s very important that when you are buying sunscreen, that it should have an S.P.F. of 30 or better, but also on the label it should say broad spectrum protection.
The other thing that works really well, they have new U.P.F. shirts which are long sleeve or short sleeve shirts and you put that on and that will alleviate the necessity to put sunscreen all over your upper body. I also recommend wide brim hats because skin cancers and precancers are very common on the ears.