KeratosesKeratoses may be caused by the sun (actinic) or may be inherited (seborrheic).

Seborrheic keratoses tend to be tan or dark brown in color.  They are often confused with moles, warts and melanoma skin cancer, but they differ in a variety of ways: they are not caused by sunlight, they are not contagious and they are not cancerous.

Actinic or “Solar” keratoses are rough scaly growths mostly found in elderly individuals with fair skin or those who have spent long periods outdoors.  They are generally found on the face, hands, and scalp, the areas that get the most sun exposure.  Actinic keratoses are treated aggressively because they are precancerous and can develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

The best way to prevent actinic keratoses is to start at a young age with being smart in the sun.  This includes using broad based sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher, as well as sun protective clothing when possible.  Avoiding mid-day sun is also recommended.
Both actinic and seborrheic keratoses can be treated with cryosurgery and curettage. Topical agents, chemical peels, and lasers also provide treatment options for some keratoses.