Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, aredry scaly patches of skin caused by damagefrom years of sun exposure.

The patchescan be pink, red or brown in colour, and can vary in size from a few millimetres to a few centimetres across.

The skin in affected areas can sometimes become very thick, and occasionally the patches can look like small horns or spikes.

Actinic keratoses are found on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the:

  • face,especially the nose and forehead
  • forearms and backs of hands
  • in men, on the rims of the ears and bald scalps
  • in women, on the legs below the knees

The patchesare usually harmless and sometimes get better on their own, but they can be sore,itchy and look unsightly. There is alsoa small risk that the patches could develop into a type of skin cancer called Squamous cell carcinoma if they're not treated.

You should see your GP if you think you may haveactinic keratoses, so they can discuss treatment options with you.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 2 Dec 2016