Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a scaly or crusty growth or lesion on the skin. It most often appears on the scalp, face, ears, lips, backs of the hands and forearms, shoulders, neck or any other areas of the body frequently exposed to the sun. You’ll most often see the plural, “keratoses,” because there is seldom just one.

In the beginning, actinic keratoses are frequently so small that they are recognized by touch rather than sight. It feels as if you are running a finger over sandpaper. There are many more invisible (subclinical) lesions as visible ones on the skin surface.

Most often, actinic keratoses develop slowly and reach a size from an eighth to a quarter of an inch. Early on, they may disappear only to reappear later. Most become red, but some will be light or dark tan, pink, red, a combination of these, or the same color as your skin. Occasionally they itch or produce a pricking or tender sensation. They can also become inflamed and surrounded by redness. In rare instances, actinic keratoses can even bleed.

If you have actinic keratoses, it indicates that you have sustained sun damage and could develop any kind of skin cancer – not just squamous cell carcinoma.

Treatment Options

  • Topical Medications
  • Cryosurgery
  • Combination Therapies
  • Chemical Peels
  • Laser Surgery
  • Photodynamic Therapy

Treatment options for Actinic Keratosis


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