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Understanding Actinic Keratosis -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Actinic Keratosis?

A number of treatments are available for actinic keratosis, a condition in which too much sun exposure leads to lesions (keratoses) that may become cancerous. They include:

  • Cryosurgery (also known as cryotherapy). Liquid nitrogen "freezes" the surface skin, which damages the keratoses, causing some skin redness and crusting until the area is replaced by new skin. This is the most commonly used treatment for actinic keratosis.
  • Surgical removal and biopsy. The lesion may be surgically removed and examined if there is a possibility it has become cancerous.
  • Chemotherapy. A topical anticancer agent called fluorouracil may be applied to remove the skin lesion. A red spot may remain for some time due to the treatment.
  • Photodynamic therapy. A chemical is applied to the skin and after several hours exposed to a light that activates the chemical to destroy the abnormal skin cells.
  • Chemical peel . A chemical solution is applied to the skin to cause blistering and peeling and to trigger new skin growth. Redness and swelling will likely occur.
  • Other topical therapies. Immunomodular therapy with imiquimod cream works much like fluorouracil to selectively rid the skin of abnormal cells causing the actinic keratosis. Ingenol mebutate (also known as Picato) is another drug applied to the skin that has been shown to reduce actinic keratosis. Diclofenac (also known as Solaraze) is an anti-inflammatory cream applied for 2 to 3 months to reduce actinic keratoses.

Understanding Actinic Keratosis

Find out more about actinic keratosis:




WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on March 13, 2015

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