Actinic keratoses (AKs) are so common today that treatment for these lesions ranks as one of the most frequent reasons that people consult a dermatologist. Most people simply want the lesion removed for cosmetic reasons and are unaware that they have developed a potentially serious skin condition that can progress into various types of skin cancer.

However, sometimes AKs can be detected before they are ever visible on the skin. If you have a small patch of skin that feels rough, dry and scaly, an AK could be forming. In addition to these signs, the surrounding skin usually shows signs of sun damage, such as broken blood vessels, yellow discoloration, or blotchy pigment.

The cause of many actinic keratoses is long-term, unprotected exposure to the sun and its harmful rays. For that reason, AKs often form in areas of the body that receive the greatest exposure to the sun and typically in older adults. However, AKs can form at any age so if you think you might have an AK you should see a dermatologist immediately.