What causes solar keratosis?
Solar keratosis is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Author: Jonathan Meddings
First answered: 18 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.2/5 Votes: 616
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Solar keratosis is a condition where patches of skin become rough and scaly, due to excessive exposure to sunlight.
The symptoms of solar keratosis can vary. The abnormal skin cells can appear scaly and yellow, red, pink, grey or skin colored. They can progress and appear more like a wart, becoming harder and developing a rougher surface.
Your risk of solar keratosis increases with age. It is higher if you have fair skin, work outdoors, sunbathe or use tanning beds, do not use sun protection, or if you have a weakened immune system.
Your doctor will diagnose solar keratosis by examining your skin. A biopsy may be taken for a laboratory examination, if necessary.
There is a range of treatment options for solar keratosis, including surgery, medicated creams, cryotherapy and photodynamic therapy. It is also advisable to wear sunscreen to help reduce the formation of further lesions.
You can reduce your risk of solar keratosis by avoiding ultraviolet (UV) exposure and always using sun protection such as sunscreen, shade and appropriate clothing.
In most cases, solar keratosis responds well to treatment. In some cases, however, the cells can become cancerous and develop into a squamous cell carcinoma. This can usually be treated, but the treatment is generally more extensive.
Solar keratosis is not generally cancerous but there is a small risk that it may develop into a cancer. If it changes in appearance or becomes tender, it may be worth getting it reviewed by a doctor.