Woman in sun hat on beach

The sunshine that felt so good on your skin years ago can still be damaging it. Many sun-caused skin problems began long ago, on the beach, in the backyard, or when working outdoors. One result of yesterday’s sun exposure is a precancerous skin condition called actinic keratosis.

An actinic keratosis is a scaly, sometimes itchy bump that appears on the skin, often on the face, ears, scalp, neck, or backs of the hands. It is an indication that sun damage has occurred. It is a precancerous condition. These marks can be reddish, tan, or light in color. People with fair hair and skin as well as blue, gray, or green eyes are more likely to develop an actinic keratosis. Sun exposure is cumulative, that is, it builds up, so older people are more likely to discover these scaly bumps than younger people.

There are several treatments for actinic keratosis including:
• Cryotherapy (freezing the lesion)
• Chemotherapy applied to the skin
• Surgery
The treatment chosen will depend on age, and the extent of the lesion. Occasionally, an actinic keratosis will recur and new ones can occur in other areas. It’s a good idea for adults to have a full body skin exam annually to discover any precancerous or cancerous skin lesions as early as possible. Start with a visit to your HackensackUMGPV primary care provider for best advice.