How A Dermatologist Can Treat Actinic Keratosis

Posted on: 20 April 2021

Do you have a rough, scaly patch of skin on your face or neck? This patch may be slightly raised, and it may have a slightly pink, red, or brown color. Chances are, you have a condition called actinic keratosis. It's usually not cancerous, but it can develop into cancer if left untreated. So, it is a good idea to see a dermatologist and have the lesion addressed. What can your dermatologist do about your actinic keratosis? There are a few possibilities.


Fluorouracil is a topical, prescription cream that is sold under several different brand names. It basically works by killing the tissue within the lesion, causing it to slough away. Dermatologists often prescribe fluorouracil for small and mild cases of actinic keratosis. You'll need to apply the medication carefully as directed, on a daily basis, for a couple of weeks. Fluorouracil can cause side effects such as mouth sores, a loss of appetite, changes in taste, and nausea. If you experience these side effects, let your dermatologist know. They can tell you whether or not it's safe for you to continue taking fluorouracil in spite of the side effects.


If you do not react well to fluorouracil or cannot take it for any reason, your dermatologist may instead recommend cryotherapy. This is a procedure by which liquid nitrogen is applied to the lesion. The liquid nitrogen kills the tissue, causing the growth to fall off a few days later. The one downside to cryotherapy for the treatment of actinic keratosis is that it does not always kill the deepest skin cells that are affected by the condition. So, your actinic keratosis may come back a few months later.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is becoming an increasingly popular option for treating actinic keratosis. If your dermatologist has a therapeutic laser, this is likely the treatment they'll recommend. The laser kills the affected tissue. You will have a small sore afterward, but it should heal within a week or two. The downside to laser therapy is that it does tend to leave a scar and some discoloration. Also, it can be expensive and may not always be fully covered by medical insurance.

Talk to your dermatologist about these three treatment options for actinic keratosis. Whether you prefer a topical remedy or a one-time treatment in your dermatologist's office, your dematologist can address your concerns and make a recommendation based on your needs. Look for a dermatology clinic in your area to go to.