Actinic keratoses (AKs) are pre-cancerous growths that most commonly occur on sun exposed skin due to cumulative UV exposure. Lesions are most most often reddish- pink and scaly, but can sometimes be tan or skin-colored. These growths are usually diagnosed by their appearance and texture, with biopsy reserved for lesions that are atypical in appearance, suspicious for cancer, or not responding to treatment. Untreated lesions may turn into squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer.
Treatment options for AKs may include cryotherapy (or freezing), topical creams, curettage (scraping), or in-office blue light treatment. The therapy recommended depends upon many factors such as the location, number, thickness, and symptoms.