Actinic Keratoses

Beverly Dermatology & Laser Center

Learn more about Actinic Keratoses and how Beverly Dermatology & Laser Center can help.
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About Actinic Keratoses

What is It?

Actinic keratosis (ak-TIN-ik ker-uh-TOE-sis) is a rough, scaly patch on the skin that develops from years of sun exposure. It's often found on the face, lips, ears, forearms, scalp, neck or back of the hands.
Also known as a solar keratosis, an actinic keratosis grows slowly and usually first appears in people over 40.
You can reduce your risk of this skin condition by minimizing your sun exposure and protecting your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Left untreated, the risk of actinic keratoses turning into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma is about 5% to 10%.



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About Actinic Keratoses

What Causes It?

Actinic keratoses vary in appearance. Signs and symptoms include:
  • Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
  • Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
  • In some cases, a hard, wartlike surface
  • Color variations, including pink, red or brown
  • Itching, burning, bleeding or crusting
  • New patches or bumps on sun-exposed areas of the head, neck, hands and forearms


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About Actinic Keratoses

Common Treatments

  • Freezing (cryotherapy). Actinic keratoses can be removed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. Your doctor applies the substance to the affected skin, which causes blistering or peeling. As your skin heals, the damaged cells slough off, allowing new skin to appear. Cryotherapy is the most common treatment. It takes only a few minutes and can be done in your doctor's office. Side effects may include blisters, scarring, changes to skin texture, infection and changes in skin color of the affected area.
  • Scraping (curettage). In this procedure, your doctor uses a device called a curet to scrape off damaged cells. Scraping may be followed by electrosurgery, in which the doctor uses a pencil-shaped instrument to cut and destroy the affected tissue with an electric current. This procedure requires local anesthesia. Side effects may include infection, scarring and changes in skin color of the affected area.
  • Laser therapy. This technique is increasingly used to treat actinic keratosis. Your doctor uses an ablative laser device to destroy the patch, allowing new skin to appear. Side effects may include scarring and discoloration of the affected skin.
  • Photodynamic therapy. Your doctor might apply a light-sensitive chemical solution to the affected skin and then expose it to a special light that will destroy the actinic keratosis. Side effects may include redness, swelling and a burning sensation during therapy.


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Providers

Our Approach & Expertise

Our practice has skilled dermatologic experts who have the experience and knowledge to provide effective solutions for your particular needs and goals. Our focus on you as a person is what makes us different from others, and we’ll be with you each step of the way with empathy, advice, and support. Healthy skin is our passion. Contact us today if you have actinic keratosis so that we can help you.

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