You are not alone, over half of Australians over the age of 40 have solar keratosis (SK) aka Sun Spots - scaly pre-cancerous spots found on sun exposed areas particularly the scalp, face and hands and forearms.
Unsightly, yes! Dangerous? Actually, kind of!
They carry real potential to transform into nasty cancers - squamous cell cancers (SCC's) - so these sun spots should be taken seriously! It's a fact, that globally Australia has the highest rate of Solar Keratosis (SK) development.
Therefore, my MEDICAL ADVICE is always for early identification of Solar Keratosis (SK) and early medical treatment so you can prevent the progression to a nasty invasive skin cancer.
If you are concerned about your skin at all, I suggest you book a skin check. My BEST ADVICE to ANYONE out there who can see Sun Damaged Skin on their hands, face or décolletage:
1. If your seeing Sun Damaged Skin, your aim RIGHT NOW is to prevent your Sun Damaged Skin from developing into a Solar Keratosis (SK).
2. If you have had a Solar Keratosis (SK) diagnosed already then your aim is to prevent more from coming up.
AND see a GP who can monitor you carefully. (I suggest a GP Management Plan for chronic Sun Damaged Skin annually and seeing a Doctor trained in skin like the Doctors at collective.care)
On a personal note, if you are curious as to why I wrote this (obviously I am a Skin GP and it's what I do), but I also wanted to share what I explain to my skin patients in my skin clinic every day to personally save me from having to personally explain it over and over again ;)
But mainly it was to let people know younger and younger people are getting them and they need to know about the proven ways to prevent more of these SK’s developing on their skin in the future.
So for those with SDS (Sun Damaged Skin) you should definitely start considering your treatment, prevention and skin reversing options.
I also believe Sun Damaged Skin, like every other chronic medical conditions needs to be treated with the same respect with scheduled regular reviews - so try and avoid adhoc presentations as it makes monitoring a chronic medical conditions far from ideal.
But first, a quick explainer about SK (Solar Keratosis)
Solar Keratosis (SK) are basically caused by cumulative sun exposure over time.
Bad news though, once spotted, more can keep following and it marks the sign of the development of Chronic Sun Damaged Skin.
SK are mainly caused by ultraviolet radiation-induced-skin damage forming a continuum that in some cases result in skin cancer development
They are diagnosed by simple physical examination. In fact, every time I examine a patient I deliberately run my hands over their skin explaining as I go that SK often can be better-felt-than-seen. They feel like crusty or scaly spots that people describe can itch, burn or sting.
Studies have shown that it takes about two years for previously confirmed sunspots (SK) to transform into a nasty squamous cell cancers (SCC).
Thats not great news - remember SCC skin cancers are the bad ones with the potential to metastasise.
Therefore, if you have had an SK my advice is that you need a Preventative Skin Check Appointment every 12 months.
For those with an upcoming collective.care skin consultation, we will talk about Treatment Options, Prevention Options and Reversing Sun Damaged Skin more at your consultation or you can have a listen here.
About the author:
Dr Bekir MBBS FRACGP believes in advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatment of the skin and advocates high standards in clinical practice, education, and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin.