Understanding Actinic Keratosis -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratoses most commonly occur on areas of skin that receive lots of sun exposure -- like the face, ears, the scalp of bald men, and the backs of the hands, legs and arms. The lesions may be skin-colored, reddish-brown, or yellowish-tan. They may look like a raised bump, be flat, or may feel like a dry patch of skin. The skin-colored lesions may be noticed more by touch, because they tend to feel like sandpaper.

Actinic keratoses are not tender, but if you have a lesion that fits their description and is tender, it may have morphed into a type of skin cancer. If you have any type of skin lesion that is new, tender, bleeding or changing in appearance, you should see a dermatologist.


WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 26, 2019


American Academy of Dermatology.
Department of Clinical Social Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Germany.

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