An actinic keratosis is a rough or scaly patch of skin that develops from years of overexposure to the sun. They are more common in adults over 40, and usually appear on the face, neck, ears, and hands, or any other area frequently exposed to sunlight or other artificial UV light sources, such as tanning beds.
Actinic keratoses usually develop slowly and often are so small they can be felt before they are seen on the skin. They can appear red, tan, pink, brown, or even the same color as your skin. The affected area will feel dry and scaly like sandpaper, and if irritated may even bleed. Actinic keratoses are usually removed once identified due to the possibility of the area becoming cancerous. A small percent of actinic keratoses can become skin cancers in the form of Squamous Cell Carcinoma, with older untreated areas more likely to become cancerous.