Actinic Keratosis Treatment

Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that causes rough, scaly patches (keratoses) on the areas of your skin that are typically exposed to the sun. These pre-cancerous lesions can sometimes lead to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma if not detected and treated early.

At our Springfield, Longmeadow, Northampton, and Westfield, Massachusetts, locations, we emphasize early detection and offer customized treatment to avoid actinic keratosis developing into skin cancer.

What Do Actinic Keratoses Look Like?

Actinic keratosis lesions tend to have a rough texture and red, brown, pink, or flesh-colored appearance. You may notice these lesions on your face, neck, head, forearms, upper back, and hands. Actinic keratosis can also occur on the lips, called actinic cheilitis.

They may itch or burn, although some actinic keratoses can be asymptomatic.

What Causes Actinic Keratosis?

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the main cause of actinic keratosis is long-term exposure to UV light through direct sunlight or indoor tanning. Once you have a skin lesion, you will likely develop more in the future. Individuals who are at an advanced age, fair-skinned, or have a genetic disorder are more likely to develop actinic keratosis.

Treatments for Actinic Keratosis

Our experienced team of MA-based dermatologists can provide the best treatment option for you, including topical treatments.

Topical Treatments

Depending on the severity of your actinic keratosis, your provider may prescribe a topical gel or cream such as fluorouracil, imiquimod, or diclofenac. You may experience some skin redness and discomfort after using these topical treatments. Additionally, topical treatments may need to be used for a long period to achieve the desired results.

BLU-U ® Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

During photodynamic therapy, your dermatologist will apply Levulan, a photosensitizing agent, to the skin and use blue light treatment to activate the solution. When the solution is activated, it destroys the actinic keratosis lesion. PDT is a good treatment option if you have multiple lesions or a lesion that returns after alternate treatments.

Liquid Nitrogen

Your actinic keratoses can be removed by the process of freezing or cryotherapy with the use of liquid nitrogen. Once liquid nitrogen is applied to the desired area, it causes the skin to peel so the lesion can be removed. Freezing is a common treatment for actinic keratoses, and the procedure only takes a few minutes.

Your dermatologist will advise you on how to care for your skin after the procedure. You may experience blisters, scarring, and a change in skin texture after cryotherapy.

Choose a Specialist

Our experienced dermatology team can diagnose and offer treatment options for your actinic keratosis based on how many lesions you have, the location of the lesions, and your overall health. Our goal is to provide you with a customized treatment plan that ensures your health and peace of mind. Learn more about our medical team at the New England Dermatology & Laser Center or call us at (413) 733-9600 to schedule an appointment.


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