Actinic Keratosis and Treatment Options

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a skin condition with rough, scaly patches on your skin. If left untreated actinic keratosis Santa Barbara can lead to skin cancer. Although not all actinic keratosis patches will lead to cancer, your dermatologist will take you through to determine your type of lesions.


The harmful effect of ultraviolet rays causes actinic keratosis. If you repeatedly expose your skin to the sun without proper coverage from sunscreen, the effect of the UV rays will create scaly patches on the exposed areas.  

In which areas does the condition develop?

Actinic keratosis develops in exposed areas, and they include:

·         Face

·         Neck

·         Ears

·         Baldhead

·         Shoulders

·         Forearms

·         Back of hands

Risk factors of actinic keratosis

Several factors will increase the risk of getting actinic keratosis. The following factors will increase your chances of getting the condition.

·         If you are 40 years and above

·         If you have a weakened immune system

·         Geographical location, especially near the equator

·         If you work outdoors

·         Family history of a lot of sun exposure or sunburns

Treatment options

Your treatment will depend on the severity of your actinic keratosis. If only a small area is affected, you can minimize the condition’s intensity. In most cases, your dermatologist will recommend removing the scaly patches.

The treatment options include the following:


Your dermatologist can recommend a medicated cream or gel that you can apply to the lesions. You might experience scaling, redness, or a burning sensation as the medication works to remove the actinic keratosis.

Surgical options

In other cases, your dermatologist can recommend surgical options to remove the scaly patches. The following are common surgical procedures for actinic keratosis.


Also referred to as cryotherapy, this treatment method uses liquid nitrogen on the affected areas. The liquid nitrogen will freeze the lesions and cause them to fall off. The treatment might cause blistering, peeling, and scarring. Common side effects include changes in your skin color, texture, and infection.

Curettage and desiccation

Your dermatologist uses an instrument (curet) to scrape off the lesions. Your specialist can follow up on the scraping with electrosurgery to destroy the damaged cells. Electrosurgery uses electric current through a pencil-shaped device.

The electrosurgery procedure will require a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort and pain. Side effects include scarring, skin color changes, and infection.

Laser or light therapy

In laser therapy, your specialist will use a laser device to target the lesions and destroy them. You might experience scarring and skin discoloration as side effects.

In light therapy, your dermatologist will apply a light-sensitive topical treatment and expose it to light to destroy the actinic keratosis. Side effects include swelling and a burning sensation during treatment.


Although you cannot entirely prevent the condition, you can reduce your likelihood of getting the condition. You can incorporate the following into your daily routine.

·         Use sunscreen when you are outdoors

·         Limit sun exposure, especially during the middle of the day

·         Inspect your skin regularly and discuss with your doctor any changes

If you have a rough, scaly patch, visit LUX Dermatology for treatment. Qualified dermatologists will evaluate the patches and provide suitable personalized treatment. Call or book an appointment online today.

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