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Medical Dermatology

Actinic Keratosis

An Actinic Keratosis (AK) forms when the skin is chronically damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the outdoor or indoor tanning. It is a rough, dry, scaly patch that forms on the skin. Most people who have many AKs continue to get new AKs for life. AKs are considered precancerous, which means there is a likelihood that they will become cancerous. Anyone who has many AKs should be under a dermatologist’s care.

Your dermatologist at Lucent Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center will tell you how often you should return for skin exams. Some patients need a checkup once every 8 to 12 weeks. Others return for a checkup 1 or 2 times per year.

Please keep all your appointments with Lucent Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center. Left untreated, AKs can turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. With early detection and treatment, skin cancer has a high cure rate.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer associated with severe sun damage, other skin cancers such as melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma are also associated with chronic sun damage.

It is important to protect your skin from UV irradiation. Wear a sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage, sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses, and see your dermatologist on a regular basis.

Treatments for Actinic Keratosis

There are many treatments for AKs. Some treatments your dermatologist can perform in the office, such as cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), chemical peels and curettage. Sometimes, you will be prescribed a topical medication to use at homes such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream, Diclofenac sodium gel, Imiquimod cream or Ingenol mebutate gel. The goal of treatment is to destroy the AKs. Some patients receive more than one type of treatment.

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