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Keratosis is a skin condition marked by an overgrowth of layers of horny skin. There are several types of keratosis: actinic keratosis, keratosis pilaris, hyperkeratosis, seborrheic keratosis, keratosis follicularis (Darrier's disease).

Actinic Keratosis (solar/senile keratosis)

Dermatlas: Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis

© 2001-05, Dermatlas

Location: face, scalp, back of the neck, upper chest, as well as the tops of the hands and forearms - i.e. areas of the skin that has been chronically exposed to the sun, especially of light-skinned persons. In men actinic keratosis can also develop on top of the ears.

Symptoms: An actinic keratosis is also known as a solar(senile) keratosis. Actinic keratosis appears as a rough, wart-like spot of 2 to 6 mm in diameter, usually reddish in color, often with the white scale atop. Actinic keratosis is a precancerous (premalignant) condition of thick, scaly patches of skin that can develop into skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma). Relatevely few of actinic keratoses do become cancers, process of transformation can take many years or even decades.
Note: there are similar spots, raised brown lesions, that have no relationship to skin cancers - they are called seborrheic keratoses. These lesions are not caused be sun exposure.

Treatments: Topical Fluoracil, Topical Imiquimod, Topical Aminolevulinic acid.
Fluoracil works best on the face and scalp and is less effective on other areas of the body. It destroys skin cells damaged by sun, making the skin smoother.
Aminolevulinic is used along with ultraviolet light to treat actinic keratosis of the face and scalp.

Keratosis Pilaris

Dermatlas: Keratosis pilaris
Keratosis pilaris

© 2001-05, Dermatlas

Location: primarily affected areas are: back and outer sides of the upper arms. But keratosis pilaris can also occur on thighs and buttocks or any body part except glabrous skin.

Symptoms: Keratosis pilaris is common genetic follicular disease, caused by an accumulation of excess keratin around hair follicles (hyperkeratinization). Keratosis pilaris shows as rough bumps on the skin, it may mimic goose bumps in appearance.
There are different subtypes of keratosis pilaris:
– keratosis pilaris rubra - is characterized by red, inflamed bumps,
– keratosis pilaris alba - appears as rough, bumpy skin with no irritation,
– keratosis pilaris rubra faceii - shows as a reddish rash on the cheeks.

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