Actinic keratosis – lesions behind the mask

Part of Special Series: WONCA World Rural Health Conference Abstracts 2022go to url


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Alexandra Maria Santos Soares
1 *

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Jorge Bruno Pereira
2 MD, Trainee Doctor ORCID logo

name here
Róman Márquez de LaPeña


* Alexandra Maria Santos Soares


1, 2, 3 UCSP S. Miguel – ULS Castelo Branco, Castelo Branco, Portugal


10 January 2023 Volume 23 Issue 1


RECEIVED: 20 September 2022

ACCEPTED: 20 September 2022


Santos Soares A, Pereira JB, Márquez De LaPeña R.  Actinic keratosis – lesions behind the mask. Rural and Remote Health 2023; 23: 8113. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH8113


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Introduction: Actinic keratoses (AKs) are common skin lesions that arise in skin areas chronically exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. They may progress to squamous cell carcinomas in 16% of cases within 1 year. Clinically, they present as erythematous scaly plaques and mainly affect face, neck, chest, back of the hands, shoulders and scalp. Cumulative exposure to UV radiation is the main risk factor. Other factors are advanced age, outdoor activities, geographic characteristics, exposure to artificial UV radiation and chronic skin inflammation. Many of these factors are often present in rural populations where agriculture remains important.

Methods/Results: This presentation present the case of a 67-year-old male patient, who went to his Family Doctor for odynophagia with 2 days of evolution. He had hypertrophied and erythematous tonsils with purulent exudate and was medicated with amoxicillin–clavulanic acid 875+125 mg for 8 days with improvement of symptoms. To perform the observation of the oropharynx, he was asked to remove his face mask, which revealed an erythematous scaly lesion in the left malar region, suggestive of actinic keratosis. He was referred to Dermatology where cryotherapy of the lesion was performed with a favourable evolution without relapses.

Discussion: AKs are pre-malignant lesions. Rural populations are particularly at risk for their development. It is therefore essential to raise awareness for the use of protective measures as well as to investigate lesions already established. This case seeks to alert for the fact that the use of masks due to COVID-19 pandemic can hide pre-malignant lesions of the face with a consequent delay in diagnosis and treatment.

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