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What is an actinic keratosis, and what does it look like?
An actinic keratosis (AK), also known as a solar keratosis, is a small, rough
spot occurring on skin that has been chronically exposed to the sun. Actinic
keratoses generally measure in size between 2-6 millimeters in diameter
(between the size of a pencil point and that of an eraser). They are usually
reddish in color, with a rough texture and often have a white or yellowish scale
on top. Actinic keratosis often occurs against a background of sun damage,
including sallowness, wrinkles, and superficial blood vessels.
In addition to feeling rough, actinic keratoses may feel sore or painful when
fingers or clothing rub against them.
Specialized forms of actinic keratoses include cutaneous horns, in which the
skin protrudes in a thick, hornlike manner, and actinic cheilitis, which refers
to scaling and roughness of the lower lip and blurring of the border of the lip
and adjacent skin.