Treatable Condition

Medical Dermatology

Actinic Keratoses

Actinic keratoses are precancerous growths on the skin caused by excessive or frequent sun exposure, therefore are more frequent in areas such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, or chest.

Actinic Keratoses

About the Actinic Keratoses

These lesions appear as rough, dry patches or growths on the skin and can eventually progress to skin cancer if not treated. Any rough patches should be examined by a dermatologist to prevent precancerous growths from going untreated.


  • What are the Risk factors?
    Actinic keratoses typically develop over time and are therefore most common in people over the age of 40. However, younger adults and teenagers may be at risk, especially those who deliberately expose their skin to the sun for prolonged periods or use tanning beds.

    Factors that can increase your risk of developing actinic keratoses include:

    1) Having fair skin, blue or green eyes, or blond or red hair.
    2) Long-term daily sun exposure (such as people who work outdoors).
    3) Multiple, severe sunburns early in life.
  • What are the treatment options?
    Actinic keratoses, although in a low percentage, may progress into skin cancer if left untreated.

    Actinic keratoses may be removed by cryotherapy, which causes frostbite on the top layer of the skin with liquid nitrogen. Topical creams containing 5-fluorouracil or imiquimod, may be prescribed to people who have multiple lesions.They may also be treated with photodynamic therapy, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, or other skin procedures may sometimes be used in actinic keratosis treatment.
  • How do you prevent actinic keratoses?
    To reduce your risk of actinic keratoses and skin cancer, wear protective clothing outdoors, limit your sun exposure, and try to avoid the sun during mid-day, when ultraviolet light is strongest. Use high-quality sunscreen SFP 30 or above year-round, and avoid tanning beds.

"The skin is your best outfit — you just need to know how to take care of it."
Miriam Casal, MD

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