Medical Dermatology

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratoses (AKs) are common and may be characterized by rough, red, scaly patches, crusts or sores. They are often referred to as “precancers” of the skin. In approximately 10-15% of cases, they transform to a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

  • AKs are usually found in fair-skinned people on their face, lips, scalp, neck, forearms, and back of the hands – areas of chronic sun exposure.
  • Individuals with poor immune systems are also at greater risk for developing AKs.
  • AKs are usually found on older people because they take years to develop; however, even people in their 20s and 30s can develop AKs.
  • A number of therapies are available for AKs: cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen spray), Efudex cream (5-fluorouracil), Aldara cream (Imiquimod) and Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan (ALA-PDT) are among the most common therapies.