We hope this leaflet will help you understand a little more about this condition. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask the nursing or medical staff. They will be happy to help you.

What are Actinic Keratoses?

You have been diagnosed as having Actinic Keratoses. These are also known as Solar Keratoses.

These may show up as small rough patches of skin. They develop after many years of exposure to sunshine, which acts on your skin, starting in childhood. They are usually found with other signs of sun damage, such as wrinkles and faint brown patches.

Actinic Keratoses are most common on those parts of the body that are exposed to the most sunshine.

What kind of treatment can I expect?

The type of treatment depends on the place on the body that is affected, the size of the affected area, and how you feel about the options that the doctor will discuss with you.

Treatments include:

  • Freezing the area with cold spray of liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery)
  • Using a treatment cream
  • Surgery under local anaesthetic

Treatments often cause a little soreness which can take a few weeks to settle.

Is the condition dangerous?

Actinic Keratoses are not dangerous but they are a sign that you have skin damage and may get other skin problems related to sun damage. Some Actinic
Keratoses become thicker, painful and may bleed. These may develop into early skin cancer and you should ask you doctor for an opinion if you notice any of these changes.

What do I do next?

  • Keep an eye on your skin for any changes. Faint Actinic Keratoses may go away by themselves or settle with moisturising cream
  • Rougher Actinic Keratoses will seldom go away without treatment and you should ask your GP for advice
  • Protecting your skin from further sun dam-age should help reduce the number of Actinic Keratoses you develop

How can I prevent getting more sun damage?

Protecting yourself from strong sunshine will help prevent sun damage. It will help prevent your skin from ageing and should reduce the chances of you developing more wrinkles, brown marks, Actinic Keratoses and SCCs (Squamous Cell Carcinomas).

Protection from sunshine means:

  • Stay in the shade 11am-3pm. The sun is most dangerous in the middle of the day, find shade under umbrellas, trees, canopies or indoors
  • Make sure you never burn. Sunburn can double your risk of skin cancer
  • Always cover up. Sunscreen is not enough, wear a t-shirt, a wide brimmed hat and wrap around sunglasses
  • Remember to take extra care with children. Young skin is delicate, keep babies out of the sun around midday
  • Use factor 30+ sunscreen. Apply sunscreen generously 15-30 minutes before you go outside and reapply often
  • Also report mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to your doctor.

What are the risks or complications?

If a specific treatment has been offered, then please read the information leaflet relevant to that treatment. The doctor will discuss any risks or complications associated with this treatment with you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Vitamin D advice

The evidence relating to the health effects of serum Vitamin D levels, sunlight exposure and Vitamin D intake remains inconclusive. Avoiding all sunlight exposure if you suffer from light sensitivity, or to reduce the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers, may be associated with Vitamin D deficiency.

Individuals avoiding all sun exposure should consider having their serum Vitamin D measured. If levels are reduced or deficient they may wish to consider taking supplementary Vitamin D3, 10-25 micrograms per day, and increasing their intake of foods high in Vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs, meat, fortified margarines and cereals. Vitamin D3 supplements are widely available from health food shops.

If you are concerned or notice any changes to the area, please contact your GP.

Ref: 15-17-108
Review: 11/19