Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Have a dry, rough patch on your skin that just won’t go away? It could be an actinic keratosis! At The Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center, our highly-trained team of board-certified dermatologists are experts in diagnosing and treating actinic keratoses. We’re ready to help you restore your healthy skin!


What is an Actinic Keratosis?


Also known as solar keratosis, actinic keratosis (AK) is the most common type of precancer. Generally caused by sun damage and frequent exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays over the course of multiple years, actinic keratoses are commonly present on the skin as dry, scaly, rough patches.

Actinic Keratosis FAQs

Is actinic keratosis a sign of skin cancer?

An actinic keratosis is a precancerous growth. Some, but not all, will becomes skin cancers. The majority of squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) – the second most common type of skin cancer – begin as AKs. Thus, it is important to diagnose and treat actinic keratoses early to prevent possible skin cancer development.

Can actinic keratosis spread on the skin?

Actinic keratosis may show up on the skin as small individual lesions or as a larger aggregated patch. Over time, AKs can disappear, enlarge, remain the same, or progress into SCC.

How do board-certified dermatologists treat actinic keratosis?

There are a number of ways to treat actinic keratosis. The most common AK treatments include: 


  • Curettage/Cauterization – the lesion is removed from the skin by scraping (curettage) followed by cauterization to ensure the lesion is fully treated 
  • Cryotherapy (also known as cryosurgery) – Spraying the lesion with a freezing solution, such as liquid nitrogen, to destroy the lesion.
  • Topical Therapies – Causes inflammation and destruction of the lesions.

What is the best treatment for actinic keratosis?

The best actinic keratosis treatment depends on a patient’s individual diagnosis, as well as the patient’s treatment preference. For example, topical medical therapy may be prescribed when treating multiple thin lesions in one generalized area or region. The best treatment will ultimately be decided between the patient and board-certified dermatologist.

What is the difference between actinic keratosis and seborrheic keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is a noncancerous skin growth. This common skin condition is completely harmless, so it typically doesn’t require treatment. Actinic keratosis, on the other hand, is a form of precancer that should be evaluated and potentially treated to reduce the risk of skin cancer development.

What Does an Actinic Keratosis Look Like?


In most cases, actinic keratoses show up as small, scaly spots or dry, crusty patches on the skin. Typically, it’s easier to feel, rather than see, as the skin is usually raised and has a rough texture.

Find Actinic Keratosis Treatment in Wilmington, NC at The Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center


If you have a concern about any area on your skin or think you may have an actinic keratosis, get in touch with our team of board-certified dermatologists. We’re passionate about treating and preventing skin cancer to ensure you achieve your best skin yet. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, call 910-782-0028 or request one online