What is Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratoses are rough scaly and thickened spots or patches on sun-damaged skin. They are also known as “Solar keratoses”. They occur predominantly on sun- exposed parts of the body, particularly the Face/scalp, backs of the hands and forearms, and the lower legs in women.
They usually develop after the age of 40, in response to many years of sun exposure. People with fair skin who burn easily in the sun are most likely to be affected. Very rarely actinic keratoses can transform into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
Treatments used for Actinic Keratoses include the following:
- Freezing with liquid nitrogen (Cryotherapy).
- Creams – Courses of creams containing drugs which may include 5- fluorouracil, Ingenol mebutate gel or Imiquimod are useful treatments for actinic keratoses, especially if there are many of them covering a field of skin. Diclofenac and retinoids are other drugs in cream or ointment form that are helpful when applied to milder actinic keratoses.
- Laser – may be useful particularly for larger areas of actinic keratosis.
- Curettage and Cautery – This requires local injection into the affected skin with anaesthetic, after which the actinic keratosis can be scraped off with a sharp spoon-like instrument (a curette)