Actinic keratosis (AK), or solar keratosis, is a common skin growth that represents the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer.  Because actinic keratoses are caused by chronic sun exposure they most commonly occur in areas that receive the most sun exposure such as the face, ears, lips, scalp, neck, chest, hands, arms and legs.

AKs generally present as skin scaling or rough patches and are often more easily felt than seen. They also may present as white to brown dry bumps or growths and can be small or large. Involvement of the lower lip commonly presents with chronic dryness, scaling, and cracking. Actinic keratoses often disappear for weeks but return in the same location and will grow back if picked off.   Untreated actinic keratoses can become squamous cell carcinoma and are considered pre-cancerous growths.  Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent this progression.