Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis

A new research study is enrolling for adults with actinic keratosis at ForCare. If you have actinic keratoses, a clinical research study may be an option for you. Reimbursement may be available for time and travel.

Actinic Keratosis Medical Conditions researched ForCare Medical Center Clinical Trials

Qualified participants are:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Have a diagnosis of actinic keratosis
  • Willing to commit to study visits

There is no cost for this opportunity and participants are compensated for study related visits. All study related tests, visits and investigational product are at no cost to the participant.

Facts About Actinic Keratosis

An actinic keratosis is a rough, scaly patch on your skin that develops from years of exposure to the sun. Actinic keratoses are most commonly found on the face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp or neck. Also known as a solar keratosis, an actinic keratosis enlarges slowly and usually causes no signs or symptoms other than a patch or small spot on your skin. These patches take years to develop, usually first appearing in people over 40. A small percentage of actinic keratosis lesions can eventually become skin cancer. Studies suggest that 5 percent (1 out 20) of all actinic keratosis develop into a squamous cell carcinoma. Avoiding sun exposure and protecting your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays reduces risk for actinic keratosis thereby reducing the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.

Presentation of Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratoses are found primarily on areas exposed to the sun, such as your face, lips, ears, hands, forearms, scalp and neck.

The signs and symptoms of an actinic keratosis include:

  • Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter
  • Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
  • In some cases, a hard, wart-like surface
  • Pink, red or brown (pigmented)

Treatment of Actinic Keratosis


Prescription products that can be applied to the skin:

  • Fluorouracil cream (Carac, Fluoroplex, Efudex)
  • Imiquimod cream (Aldara, Zyclara)
  • Ingenol mebutate gel (Picato)
  • Diclofenac gel (Voltaren, Solaraze)
  • These creams may cause redness, scaling or a burning sensation for a few weeks.

Photodynamic therapy

In photodynamic therapy, your doctor applies a chemical solution to the affected skin that makes it sensitive to the blu-light. The area is exposed to artificial light to destroy the damaged skin cells. Side effects may include redness, swelling and a burning sensation during therapy.

Surgical and other procedures

For a few actinic keratoses, your doctor may recommend a procedure for removalof the actinic keratosis. The most common methods include:

  • Freezing (cryotherapy).Actinic keratoses can be removed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. Your doctor applies the substance to the affected skin, which causes blistering or peeling. As your skin heals, the lesions slough off, allowing new skin to appear. Cryotherapy is the most common treatment. It takes only a few minutes and can be done in your doctor’s office. Side effects may include blisters, scarring, skin texture changes, infection and darkening of the skin at the site of treatment.
  • Scraping (curettage).In this procedure, your surgeon uses a device called a curette to scrape off damaged cells. Scraping may be followed by electro-surgery, in which the doctor uses a pencil-shaped instrument to cut and destroy the affected tissue with an electric current. This procedure requires a local anesthetic. Side effects may include infection, scarring and changes in skin coloration at the site of treatment.

Actinic Keratosis Considerations

Risks – Reduce risk of developing actinic keratosis by avoiding sun exposure and tanning beds. Diagnosis – Seek an evaluation of persistent skin lesions in sun exposed regions. Treatment – Diagnosis and treatment is key to prevent the development of skin cancer, most likely a squamous cell carcinoma.