Actinic Keratosis | Treatment for Pre-cancerous Lesions | Skin And Cancer Institute
Treat Pre-Cancerous Skin Lesions like Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous skin lesion which means it poses the threat of evolving and developing into full blown skin cnacer. What does this mean? Acitinic Keratosis if detected early on can be treated and removed by one of our dermatologic surgeons in one of our many practices throughout California, Nevada or Texas.

It develops when keratin proteins in the skin are mutated by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light. Actinic keratoses may be itchy or tender and can sometimes produce a prickly sensation. They can also become inflamed and surrounded by redness. In rare instances, actinic keratoses can even bleed. If left untreated, actinic keratosis can quickly turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant form of skin cancer.

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Areas Most Affected

Actinic keratosis typically forms and grows on areas of the body exposed to the sun:

  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Ears
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Back of Hands
  • Forearms
  • Shins
  • Legs


Actinic keratoses appear as crusty, scaly clusters within the upper layer of skin. These are not smooth lesions. They are rough, with various scenarious for the shade of color including red, tan, white or pink. They can also be a combination of these colors.

In the beginning, actinic keratoses are often so small that they are recognized by touch rather than sight. In this stage, they will feel like sandpaper. Sometimes there are significantly more lesions than those on the surface of the skin.

When Cancer Has Developed from Acitinic Keratoses

Actinic keratoses can quickly turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant form of skin cancer. Immediately visit a doctor if you notice any changes in the appearance of the lesions on your skin. Below are warning signs that your actinic keratoses may have turned into skin cancer.

  • The color changes
  • The lesions become unevenly smaller or bigger
  • The lesions change in shape, texture, or height
  • The lesions start to itch
  • The lesions bleed or ooze