Spots usually appear in those who are older (over 50), but they can start appearing in younger adults who have had a lot of sun exposure. Darker-skinned individuals are rarely affected.
Patches are usually less than an inch in size with slight scale (sometimes thick like a wart) and a pink, red, or brownish color. They are slightly rough to the touch, like fine sandpaper, and may be a bit sensitive.
- Mild – one or two spots, not thick or hard
- Moderate – scattered, few spots
- Severe – numerous or thick, hard, or bleeding spots
- Avoid direct sun in the middle of the day (10 AM to 3 PM). Remember: snow and water reflect light to the skin, and clouds still let a lot of light through, so you may still be exposed to ultraviolet light even on cloudy days.
- Use a hat with a wide brim. A baseball hat does not give much protection.
- Cover up with tightly woven clothing. Some manufacturers make specialty clothing with a high sun protection factor (SPF) rating, or you can purchase a special ingredient to be added to your washer that can "wash" SPF into your clothing.
- Use sunscreen on all exposed skin areas, including the lips, before going outdoors. A broad spectrum (blocks UVB and UVA light), with an SPF of at least 30, is best. Apply generously 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating a lot.
- Do not use tanning beds!
- A low-fat diet (less than 21% calories from fat) has been shown to reduce the incidence of actinic keratoses.
- In front of a full-length mirror, inspect the front of your body making sure to look at the front of your neck, chest (including under breasts), legs, and genitals.
- With your arms raised, inspect both sides of your body making sure to examine your underarms.
- With your elbows bent, examine the front and back of your arms as well as your elbows, hands, fingers, area between your fingers, and fingernails.
- Inspect the tops and bottoms of your feet, the area between your toes, and toenails.
- With your back to the mirror and holding a hand mirror, inspect the back of your body, including the back of your neck, shoulders, legs, and buttocks.
- Using a hand mirror, examine your scalp and face.
- Local destruction with freezing (cryosurgery), scraping (curettage), burning (electrocautery), dermabrasion, or a laser
- Creams with either tretinoin, adapalene, fluorouracil, diclofenac, or imiquimod
- Chemical peeling
- Photodynamic therapy