Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis services offered in Rockville, MD

Actinic Keratosis
About Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a red, scaly skin condition that can turn cancerous when left untreated. At Shady Grove Dermatology in Rockville, Maryland, the skilled dermatologists promptly diagnose and treat actinic keratoses to ensure they don’t evolve into something more serious. Call today or use the online booking tool to schedule an actinic keratosis consultation.

Actinic Keratosis Q&A

What is actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous skin condition that often appears as a scaly, reddish spot on your skin. It usually develops in sun-exposed areas, like the face, neck, forearms, and hands.

Actinic keratosis looks similar to psoriasis, skin cancer, and other common conditions, so a thorough exam from a board-certified dermatologist is essential for an accurate diagnosis.

The dermatologists at Shady Grove Dermatology recommend scheduling regular skin exams to identify actinic keratosis when it’s still treatable.

Does actinic keratosis always turn into cancer?

About 90% of actinic keratoses don’t turn into skin cancer. However, proper monitoring and care are essential to protect your skin against cancer. You can’t tell which actinic keratoses might become cancerous, so prompt treatment minimizes your risk.

What causes actinic keratosis?

Many factors can increase your risk of actinic keratosis, including:

Ultraviolet (UV) exposure

The most significant risk factor for actinic keratosis is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Overexposure to sunlight, especially in areas with intense sunlight, can damage your skin cells and cause actinic keratosis.

Fair skin 

People with fair skin, light hair, and light eyes are more susceptible to the harmful effects of UV rays.


Actinic keratosis is more common in older individuals, as they’ve had more cumulative sun exposure.

Geographical location

Living in areas with high levels of UV radiation, closer to the equator, or at higher altitudes increases the risk of actinic keratosis.

Occupational exposures

Certain occupations that involve prolonged outdoor activities, such as farming, construction, or lifeguarding, may increase your risk of actinic keratosis.

What are the treatments for actinic keratosis?

Treating actinic keratosis depends on several factors, including the number of lesions, their locations, and your overall health. Before treating actinic keratosis, your dermatologist may take a biopsy to confirm your diagnosis and determine the lesion’s severity.

Effective treatments for actinic keratosis include:

  • Topical retinoids
  • Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen)
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Chemical peels
  • Curettage and electrodesiccation (surgical excision)
  • Prescription medications

After removing a lesion, your dermatologist may recommend regular follow-ups to continue assessing your risk of skin cancer.

Call Shady Grove Dermatology today or use the online booking tool to schedule an actinic keratosis consultation.