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Actinic Keratosis


Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose actinic keratosis by physical examination, though a biopsy may be performed to rule out skin cancer. Half of keratoses will go away on their own within a few years if sun exposure is avoided. However, removal is recommended since it’s impossible to predict whether or not an actinic keratosis will develop into skin cancer. Actinic keratoses are commonly removed by cryosurgery (freezing), curettage (scraping), laser therapy, or dermabrasion. Chemical peels, in which chemical solutions such as trichloroacetic acid are applied to the lesions to cause the skin to peel and form new skin, may be used. However, a chemical peel is usually considered a cosmetic procedure and may not be covered by health insurance. Topical anti-cancer medications such as 5-fluorouracil and imiquimod can also be used to eliminate actinic keratoses. These medications are sometimes used in the treatment of superficial basal and squamous cell skin cancers. Skin irritation and discomfort are common side effects.

Last updated: Aug-02-10

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