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General Dermatology

Actinic Keratosis

Considered to be precancerous, an actinic keratosis skin lesion shows symptoms of a rough, scaly patch on the ears, face, lips, forearms, back of your hands, scalp and neck. Also referred to as a solar keratosis, an actinic keratosis grows slowly and can be slightly sensitive or have no symptoms at all.

Actinic keratosis is more common among fair-skinned people and those who have had years of outdoor or tanning bed exposure to ultraviolet light. Actinic keratosis can develop into malignant cells, typically squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer. That's why treatment isimportant. After a physical examination and biopsy of the lesion, your dermatologist will opt for one of the following treatments to remove the growth:

  • Applying creams or ointments
  • Chemical peeling
  • Dermabrasion
  • Freezing the lesion
  • Laser therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy to destroy the cells
  • Scraping with a curettage



Because actinic keratoses can lead to skin cancer, take precautions to:
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Check your skin often for any changes
  • Limit time in the sun
  • Keep your skin covered
  • Stay away from tanning beds and tanning accelerants

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