Actinic Keratosis Color and Its Associations: A Retrospective Photographic, Dermoscopic, and Histologic Evaluation

Jessica G. Labadie*, Elsy Compres, Joel C. Sunshine, Murad Alam, Pedram Gerami, Vishnu Harikumar, Emily Poon, Kenneth A. Arndt, Jeffrey S. Dover

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVEActinic keratoses (AKs) have been described with varying color and morphology; however, no reports have demonstrated associations between color, vasculature, and inflammation. In this retrospective study, we analyze the clinical, dermoscopic, and histopathologic features of AKs to elucidate this relationship.METHODSA retrospective search for patients diagnosed with AK between January 2018 and October 2019 was performed. Clinical and dermoscopic photographs and pathology slides for all included subjects were reviewed.RESULTSForty-nine images and histopathology slides were analyzed. Dermoscopy of white AKs demonstrated scale and absence of erythema with corresponding absence of inflammation on histopathology. Dermoscopy of brown AKs revealed pseudonetwork, absent scale, and a variable vessel pattern with pigment incontinence and absence of inflammation on histopathology. Red AKs had a distinct polymorphous vessel pattern and presence of erythema on dermoscopy. On histopathology, about half of samples showed increased vascularity and variable inflammation. Pink AK dermoscopy revealed a presence of erythema with corresponding presence of inflammation on histopathology.CONCLUSIONThis report adds to our understanding of AKs and confirms that, in general, the pinker or redder the AK, the more prominent the inflammatory infiltrate and vasculature, respectively. Dermatologists should continue to use their diagnostic skills to successfully diagnose and triage AKs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-60
Number of pages4
JournalDermatologic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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