Treatment Options for Actinic Keratosis

As founder of Connolly Dermatology, Dr. Coyle Connolly offers preventative, diagnostic, and treatment services for a wide variety of skin cancers and pre-cancerous conditions. Also cited in a New York Times piece on rising skin cancer diagnosis rates, Dr. Coyle Connolly strives to educate his patients on conditions such as actinic keratosis.

Also known as solar keratoses, actinic keratoses appear on the skin as crusty growths They are most common on areas of the body that receive regular sun exposure, such as the backs of the hands and the face. If left untreated, they may develop into a common form of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. More infrequently, an actinic keratosis may develop into basal cell carcinoma.

To prevent such a development, a dermatologist will work to destroy an actinic keratosis. Cryotherapy, or freezing, currently stands as the most common treatment. A physician may also try a chemical peel or laser resurfacing, both of which remove the top layer of skin. Other options include photodynamic therapy, which treats the skin with a light-activated solution, and less commonly, curettage, which requires the surgical removal of the growth using a specialized tool. Alternatively, a physician may prescribe a cream or gel for the patient to use at home. Examples are imiquimod, fluorouracil, and ingenol mebutate.


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