Actinic Keratosis


Actinic keratosis (AK), sometimes called solar keratosis, is a scaly or crusty bump on the skin’s surface. The top of the bump may appear dry or rough, while the base may be tan, red, pink or a combination of these colors. It may itch or feel tingly or prickly. More than one keratosis is called keratoses.

AK can be the first sign of squamous cell skin cancer. Because AK is considered a pre-cancerous condition, it’s important to have it treated and to continue to have your skin checked regularly in case it returns. If you have dry, rough or scaly areas on your skin, see a dermatologist right away.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for AK include:

  • Cryotherapy, a procedure to freeze the bumps 
  • Applying topical chemotherapy (anti-cancer) drugs to the affected areas
  • Surgically removing the keratoses through minor surgery, photodynamic therapy, chemical peels or laser procedures

It’s important to have a yearly exam to check for skin changes and signs of cancer – even if you’re not at high risk. Our dermatologists offer annual skin cancer checks, and recommend that you also perform self-checks at least once a year.

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