An actinic keratosis is a patch of dry, rough, scaly skin that results from severe damage to the skin by ultraviolet light. Natural sunlight and tanning beds can cause this damage. These lesions generally develop over years and are often present on the sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, neck, and hands. An actinic keratosis is considered to be precancerous because a small percentage of these lesions may develop into skin cancer. While an actinic keratosis may be asymptomatic, it may also present with slight discoloration, itching or burning.
While actinic keratoses may resolve without treatment, persistent or recurrent lesions may require treatment with prescription creams or gels, photodynamic therapy, or surgical procedures, such as cryotherapy or curettage. The providers and staff of Thomas Dermatology are experts at the diagnosis and treatment of these lesions and, if necessary, can perform a skin biopsy of any lesions worrisome for skin cancer.