Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis (AKs) are dry, scaly patches that form on sun exposed areas of the skin, including the scalp, face, forearms, and back of the hands. Most people with one actinic keratosis (AK) lesion will develop multiple lesions during their lifetime. They may occasionally itch or become tender, especially after sun exposure. Actinic keratosis most often develops in people with light-colored skin and hair and have decades of excessive sun exposure. AKs are most common in men and women over 40 years old.

Actinic keratosis is considered precancerous by many physicians and has the potential to become a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). In fact, 40% to ­60% of squamous cell skin cancers begins as untreated AKs. Fortunately, actinic keratosis is treatable when detected in the early stages. People at risk for actinic keratosis and skin cancer can reduce that risk by performing frequent skin self-exams at home and seeing their dermatologist for regular screenings. There are many successful and relatively simple treatment options.

Options for treatment of actinic keratosis include:

  • Cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen
  • Photodynamic therapy (Blu­U light)
  • Topical prescription creams

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