Actinic keratosis (Solar Keratosis) is a skin condition that results in the scaly and crusty texture of the skin. Exposing the skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun may lead to AK. This condition is also called as solar keratosis.
Medical professionals consider actinic keratosis as a pre-cancer condition (1). It is important to give immediate medical intervention. Otherwise, it may lead to skin cancer also known as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, around 700,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this type of skin cancer each year which is the second most common form of skin cancer
The most common manifestation of actinic keratosis is skin lesions. They appear in areas that exposed to the sun. This includes the face, shoulders, bald scalp, forearms, ears, neck, and back of the arms. They may also appear on some parts of the legs and on the shins. AKs start as a small lesion that seems like the texture of sandpaper.
To understand more about actinic keratosis, read on this post.
What is Actinic Keratosis
As mentioned above, actinic keratosis is a skin condition that develops. There are cases that the lesions disappear on its own, but reappear later. It may cause itchiness or tender sensation. But, there are times that the redness aggravates and become inflamed.
To identify the condition, the doctor may examine your skin. If the condition is severe, the doctor may request for a skin biopsy. In this procedure, the doctor will get a small sample from your skin laboratory analysis.
Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis
Usually, actinic keratosis appears on the face and other parts of the body in which the skin is exposed to the sun. It may begin as a tiny spot and may progress up to an inch in diameter. Once you notice scaly bumps on your skin, you should see a doctor immediately.
The patch on the skin may flat or slightly raised. It is sometimes mistaken for warts. You may feel some itchiness or burning sensation in the affected area.
Sometimes it is difficult to identify a cancerous spot to non-cancerous ones. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor before the lesions persist or bleed.
This skin condition may happen to anyone. But, some people are more prone to AK including the following:
- A person more than 40 years old
- Living in a place where sunny climate prevails
- Have a history of intense or frequent sunburn
- Tend to burn or freckle when exposed to sunlight
- Have a poor immune system or have a history of skin cancer or actinic keratoses
Causes of Actinic Keratoses
The most common cause of actinic keratoses is constant exposure to the sun. The sun rays are harmful to the skin. That’s why if a person is exposed to the sun most of the time, there’s a great possibility of acquiring skin problems such as actinic keratoses.
Another factor that can cause actinic keratoses is the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the lamps used in tanning salons. It is more dangerous that the UV rays of the sun. That’s why dermatologists do not recommend indoor tanning to reduce the risks of developing AKs. X-rays and exposure to industrial chemicals can also cause AKs.
The most prone to AKs are those working outdoors and men have higher incidence especially if they are not using less sun protection. Likewise, people more than 50 years old can easily acquire AKs (2).
10 Actinic Keratosis Natural Treatment and Home Remedies
If your doctor found out that you’re affected with actinic keratosis, you should act immediately to treat the condition. Your doctor may give you prescriptions, but you can also consider home remedies and natural treatment that can help get rid of the skin patches.
Here are some of the natural treatments and home remedies for actinic keratosis:
1. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known to treat different health issues including skin problems. If you have actinic keratosis you can try applying apple cider vinegar to the affected area. All you have to do is to soak a cotton ball in apple cider. Place the cotton on your skin and cover it with a bandage and leave it there overnight.
Remove the cotton in the morning. You’ll notice that the skin patch will appear white. The acidic property of the apple cider vinegar will eventually remove the skin patch. Use it consistently until the skin condition is gone.
2. Tea tree oil
Another home remedy that you can use to treat actinic keratosis is tea tree oil. Many individuals affected by AKs testified that using this oil gives relief to the condition. It’s because tea tree oil contains antimicrobial properties.
If you will use tea tree oil, you should dilute it with virgin coconut oil before applying it to the affected skin. You should do it regularly to obtain the best results.
3. Virgin coconut oil
If you will use virgin coconut oil to treat actinic keratosis make sure to choose the organic one. You need to be patient when using virgin coconut oil and make sure to apply it regularly onto the skin patches.
The skin patches may turn red and you should avoid burning it. You’ll see improvements after a month of using the virgin coconut oil. The skin patches will start to fade away, thus leaving your skin softer. The application of virgin coconut oil must be done every day until the patches disappear.
4. Green tea
Green tea is also considered as an effective herbal remedy for various health conditions. You can use it topically by applying it to the affected skin or taking it as a tea.
The astringent properties present in green tea greatly help in treating different skin issues. Green tea is also available in supplement form and you can buy it in leading health stores.
It is safe to take green tea, but should not be more than five cups. Otherwise, it will cause headaches, diarrhea, and irritability. However, you should stop applying green tea if skin irritation appears.
5. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is one of the best home remedies for actinic keratosis. Apply aloe vera juice on the patches every day in your actinic keratosis area. Mix aloe vera with olive oil before applying it onto the affected skin. Do it a few times a day to see good results.
6. Olive oil
You can use olive oil to treat actinic keratosis and other skin problems. All you have to do is to apply it to the affected area. The vitamin E content of olive oil will alleviate the bumpiness without leaving the skin dry.
7. Castor oil
Castor oil has a soothing effect that can alleviate the inflammation of skin lesions. It is worth trying castor oil as it does not show adverse effects. Applying it regularly onto the skin patches will help reduce the seriousness of the condition.
8. Colloidal silver
It is a colorless and odorless liquid supplement that is used to treat actinic keratosis. You can apply colloidal silver on the affected area twice a day.
9. Water intake
As you are experiencing skin problems, it is important to stay hydrated. This means that you should increase your water intake. It can help in flushing out harmful toxins from your body through urination and perspiration.
10. Dietary changes
Using different natural treatments may not be effective unless you are practicing a healthy lifestyle. If you want to spare yourself from diseases you should maintain a healthy lifestyle. Dietary changes are one way to keep your body function properly. This will also help to prevent health problems like actinic keratosis.
It is important to include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet especially those that are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and selenium. These nutrients will boost the health of your skin cells. Boosting your immune system can also reduce the risks of developing diseases like actinic keratosis.
You should also consume foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that can make your skin healthy.
If you can’t avoid going out and expose yourself to the sun, you should do some precautionary measures. You can apply sun protection or sunscreen, wear long sleeves, pants, or hats. If ever you have developed actinic keratosis, the best thing to do is to see your doctor the soonest possible time.
is a registered dietitian with over 10 years of experience in the field of nutrition. She has a Master’s degree in Nutritional Science from Dhaka University and has worked with various clients to help them achieve their health goals through personalized diet plans. Mounota is passionate about educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle and has written extensively on the subject for various publications.