Actinic keratosis (AK) is abnormal growth of the skin. It results in a rough, scaly, or crusted patch of skin. AK tends to occur on sun-damaged skin.
AK is not cancer but it can sometimes change to squamous cell skin cancer. Treatment includes removing lesions and monitoring for skin cancer.
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AK lesions increase the risk of skin cancer. The lesions are usually removed to decrease this risk. The lesion will also be monitored for signs of cancer.
The exact method of removal will be determined by the number and location of the lesions.
AK may be removed with:
- Chemical peel
- Photodynamic therapy (may be combined with laser treatment)
Medications may also be applied over the skin. More than one treatment may be required. Over time, the medication will remove the AK. Medication may be an option for people with multiple AKs.
The procedures and medications will remove AK and allow healthy skin to grow in its place. Most treatments have some risk of scarring or discoloration of the skin.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology http://www.aocd.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
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Rivers JK, Arlette J, Shear N, et al. Topical treatment of actinic keratoses with 3.0% diclofenac in 2.5% hyaluronan gel. Br J Dermatol. 2002;146(1):94-100.
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Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed September 1, 2017.