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Actinic Keratosis Specialist

Dermatology Surgical And Medical

Michael R. Lerner, MD

Dermatologist located in Bankers Hill, San Diego, CA

Dr. Lerner can diagnose and treat precancerous actinic keratoses for patients in San Diego, California

Actinic Keratosis Q & A

What is an actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratoses (AKs) are scaly, red, elevated growths that generally occur on the face, arms and hands, but can appear anywhere.  These growths are not malignant, but they are precancerous, meaning that they can develop into skin cancers if left untreated.

What causes actinic keratosis and how can it be prevented?

AKs are caused by previous sun exposure.  They often appear in patients with lighter skin, who are more sensitive to the adverse effects of the sun.

Sun damage is permanent.  Once an AK develops, new ones can occur without additional sun exposure, but it is wise to avoid further sun damage by using 30 or more SPF sunscreen.  

How do you treat actinic keratosis?

Cryotherapy is a common treatment for AKs.  This involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze the affected areas.  A topical cream can be used to treat many lesions at the same time.  This medication is called 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and is applied for two weeks, killing sun damaged skin cells.  Another topical cream called imiquimod may be used to activate the body’s immune system. The immune system will then attack and destroy sun damaged skin.  Dr. Lerner will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your particular case.