Diagnosis and Treatmentl Features Actinic keratosis

Diagnosis and Treatmentl Features
Actinic keratosis





Actinic keratosis is typically diagnosed through clinical examination by a healthcare provider. In cases of uncertainty, a biopsy may be performed to rule out squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) or if initial treatments are ineffective. Dermoscopy can also aid in diagnosis.

Topical Treatments

  • 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU): A cytotoxic agent applied once or twice daily for 2-8 weeks, often causing redness and soreness.
  • Imiquimod:  An immune response modifier applied 2-3 times weekly for 4-16 weeks.
  • Diclofenac:  An anti-inflammatory gel used twice daily for 3 months.
  • Tirbanibulin: A synthetic inhibitor of tubulin polymerization, used for 5 days.

Physical Treatments

  • Cryotherapy: Freezing with liquid nitrogen, which may result in hypopigmentation or scarring.
  • Surgical Removal: Scraping off the lesion with a curette or excising it, often used for hypertrophic or persistent AKs.
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): Using a photosensitizing agent activated by light to destroy the lesion.
  • Laser Treatment: Ablative laser devices can remove the top layer of skin.


If left untreated, actinic keratoses can progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a type of skin cancer that is generally not life-threatening if detected and treated early. AKs also increase the risk of developing other skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and melanoma. Individuals with multiple AKs or those on immunosuppressive drugs are at higher risk.

Sun Protection

Preventing actinic keratoses involves sun protection measures:

  • Limit Sun Exposure: Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and avoid getting sunburned or tanned.
  • Use Sunscreen:  Apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, including lips, reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Cover Up:  Wear tightly woven clothing, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-protective sunglasses.
  • Avoid Tanning Beds: Tanning beds can cause skin damage similar to sun exposure.
  • Regular Skin Checks:  Examine your skin regularly for new growths or changes, and report them to a healthcare provider.


Actinic keratoses are common among individuals with extensive sun exposure and certain risk factors. While they can often be managed effectively, early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent progression to skin cancer. Protective measures against UV radiation are essential for prevention. For more detailed information, consult resources from the Mayo Clinic, DermNet, NHS, and the British Association of Dermatologists.


– Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Actinic keratosis. Retrieved from [Mayo Clinic](https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/actinic-keratosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354969)

– DermNet. (n.d.). Actinic keratosis. Retrieved from [DermNet](https://dermnetnz.org/topics/actinic-keratosis/)

– NHS. (n.d.). Actinic keratosis. Retrieved from [NHS](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/actinic-keratosis/)

– British Association of Dermatologists. (n.d.). Actinic keratosis. Retrieved from [British Association of Dermatologists](https://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/actinic-keratoses/)

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