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Actinic keratosis – Pre-Cancers Treatment

Dermatologists diagnose an actinic keratosis (AK) by closely examining the skin.

If one of our doctors finds a growth that is thick or looks like skin cancer during the exam, our doctor will likely perform a skin biopsy. Harris Dermatology can safely perform a skin biopsy during an office visit.

When found early and treated, skin cancer is often cured.

There are many treatments for AKs. Some treatments can be performed right here at Harris Dermatology. Other treatments you will use at home. The goal of treatment is to destroy the AKs. Some patients receive more than one type of treatment. Treatments for AKs include:

In-office procedures:

Cryotherapy: Destroys visible AKs by freezing them. The treated skin often blisters and peels off within a few days to a few weeks. This is the most common treatment. When the skin heals, you may see a small white mark.

Chemical peel: This is a medical chemical peel. You cannot get this peel at a salon or from a kit sold for at-home use. This strong peel destroys the top layers of skin. The treated area will be inflamed and sore, but healthy new skin will replace it.

Curettage: Our doctor will carefully remove a visible AK with an instrument called a curette. After curettage, your doctor may use electrosurgery to remove more damaged tissue. Electrosurgery cauterizes (burns) the skin. New healthier skin will appear.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT): A solution is applied to make the skin more sensitive to light. After a few hours, the treated skin is exposed to a visible light, such as blue or laser light. The light activates the solution and destroys AKs. As the skin heals, new healthy skin appears.