Keratosis is a skin condition caused by growth of the protein called keratin in the skin or on mucous membranes. Keratin is a type of protective protein, which is present in human skin, hair and nails; but in certain cases its production becomes excessive and skin problems start to appear. There are several types of keratosis, the most dangerous being actinic or solar keratosis, which is actually pre-malignant growth. Other most common varieties include keratosis pilaris also known as follicular keratosis and seborrheic keratosis. Keratosis is characterized by scaly and crusty lesions or growth on the skin, usually brown, tan, pink or red toned. When it comes to actinic (solar) keratosis these lesions appear on sun exposed areas, such as face, lips, back of the hands, and are usually elevated. A seborrheic keratosis can also occur on the back, shoulders and chest. Keratosis pilaris is characterized by hard small light-colored bumps, which usually affect areas such as the lower back, thighs and upper arms.
What Causes Keratosis?
The most serious type of this skin condition, actinic or solar keratosis, is caused by chronic sun exposure, during which skin is being damaged by ultraviolet radiation. Most affected by this condition are people with a fair complexion, especially those who are light-haired and freckled, or those who spend too much time in the sun.
Actinic keratosis is also often found in bald men, because of the fact that their scalp is continually exposed to the sun. It is also concluded that the risk of this condition is higher in people who are taking immunosuppressive therapy as well as with those infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Keratosis pilaris is caused by buildup of keratin in the skin, which then closes the opening of a hair follicle, and very small red bumps appear, making your skin feel like sandpaper. This condition is very common, and it is estimated that 30-50% percent of adult population have this skin condition, which is, luckily, harmless.
Seborrheic keratosis is more likely to appear as people age, and its cause is still unclear. It is suspected that UV rays may play their role in its development, because it usually develops in sun exposed areas, but unlike actinic keratosis, these growths are benign.
When suspected, actinic (solar) keratosis, which if untreated develops into cancer, needs a timely and adequate diagnose and treatment. Even though this condition can sometimes resolve with no treatment, the lesions will most probably occur next time skin is exposed to the sun. So, if spotted, these growths should be checked by a medical professional and sometimes tested using a skin biopsy technique. The most effective way of dealing with this condition is keratosis removal; because one can never be certain if skin lesions will become malignant.
Topical medications such as fluorouracil or imiquimod cream, and diclofenac or ingenol mebutate gel are most commonly used, in conditions when only few actinic keratoses are present. Another method is photodynamic therapy, in which damaged skin cells are destroyed by laser light. For removal of these lesions, some other methods are also used, such as cryosurgery and curettage. Although seborrheic ketosis and ketosis pilaris don’t cause such trouble, and the treatment is usually not necessary, these conditions can also be resolved for cosmetic reasons using the adequate treatment. In case that you are suffering from any of the described conditions, make an appointment and have our professional staff take care of everything.