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Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis services offered in Columbia, MD

If you suspect your rough or scaly skin is due to actinic keratosis, turn to the expert board-certified dermatologists at Dermatology & Advanced Skin Care in Columbia, Maryland. They can provide an accurate diagnosis of your condition as well as effective treatment. Call the friendly administrative staff today to schedule an appointment, or click on the contact page to book online.

Actinic Keratosis Q & A

What is actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is a skin condition characterized by rough, scaly patches or lesions that develop on sun-exposed areas of the skin. These areas commonly include the face, ears, scalp, neck, arms, and backs of the hands. 

Actinic keratoses are considered precancerous, as they have the potential to progress to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, although not all actinic keratoses will develop into cancer.

What are the symptoms of actinic keratosis?

Symptoms of actinic keratosis may include:

  • Rough, scaly, or crusty patches on the skin
  • Flat or slightly raised lesions that can be pink, red, or flesh-colored
  • Itching or burning in the affected areas

Sometimes, these patches can be easier to feel than see.

What causes actinic keratosis?

The primary cause of actinic keratosis is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or artificial sources such as tanning beds. UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, leading to the abnormal growth and development of these patches.

The Dermatology & Advanced Skin Care team recommends prompt treatment because these precancers can develop into squamous cell carcinomas.

How is actinic keratosis treated?

Treatment for actinic keratosis aims to remove the lesions to prevent their progression into skin cancer. Treatment options include:

Topical medications

The Dermatology & Advanced Skin Care team uses Levulan® Kerastick®, a two-step process involving a unique light-activated medication and photodynamic therapy (PDT).


Liquid nitrogen is applied to freeze and destroy the lesions. This procedure is often quick and can be done in your dermatologist’s office.

Curettage and electrodessication

Your provider removes the lesion with a curette (a sharp tool) and then treats the area with an electric current to destroy any remaining abnormal cells.

Laser therapy

Lasers can selectively target and remove the affected skin cells.

What can I expect after actinic keratosis treatment?

After your treatment, avoid light for 40 hours. Healing takes 10-14 days. During this period, you can expect temporary swelling and scaling, which takes about four weeks to resolve. 

Your provider will want to see you for an assessment in 4-6 weeks. If some lesions persist, a second session may be needed after eight weeks.

To schedule a skin evaluation at Dermatology & Advanced Skin Care, reach out to the team by phone or book an appointment online today.