Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis are due to UV sun exposure and are rough areas of skin usually found on sun-exposed areas of the body i.e. face, scalp, hands and chest.

They are usually harmless however there is s small risk that they can progress to develop into a form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

Actinic keratosis are more common in fair skinned individuals i.e. blue eyes and blond or red haired individuals.

Treatment options include cryotherapy or liquid nitrogen. Creams which are available from your doctor on prescription e.g. Efudix (5-Fluorouracil) or Solareze (Diclofenac creams).


What can I do to prevent actinic keratosis?

Even though your skin is already damaged, protecting it from the sun from now on will reduce the number of new actinic keratoses you get, and also reduce the risk of getting a sun-induced skin cancer. You should be extra cautious in the sun by following these recommendations:

  •  Protect yourself from the sun at its height, from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing- hats, long sleeves, long skirts or trousers.
  • Apply a sunscreen regularly of sun protection factor 15 or above (and able to block UVA and UVB light) to exposed skin before going into the sun, and again every two hours when you are out in the sun.
  • Protect your children from the sun in the same way.
  • Avoid sunbeds. Examine your own skin every few months and see your doctor if an actinic keratosis          starts to itch, bleed, or thicken, in case it has changed into a skin cancer.


Dr Lisa Fay
MB BCh BAO, DCH, MRCGP, HDip Derm, MSc Derm,, BTEC, FPC, MBACD

Dr Lisa Fay is the founder of CosmeticDoctor.ie. She has over 12 years of clinical experience and has been performing aesthetic treatments for over 9 years.

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