Actinic Keratosis

Dermatology located in Fairfax, VA

If you notice new scaly patches on your skin, you may have actinic keratosis. These suspicious growths should be examined as quickly as possible. The expert team of dermatologists at Integrated Dermatology of Fairfax in Fairfax, Virginia, can evaluate your skin condition and provide treatment right away. To learn more, call or use the online booking tool now.

What is actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous skin condition characterized by rough, scaly patches on the skin. These lesions usually develop due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. 

While actinic keratosis itself is not cancerous, if left untreated, it can potentially progress to squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.

What are the symptoms of actinic keratosis?

The symptoms of actinic keratosis typically include small, rough, and crusty patches of skin. These patches can range in color from red to brown, and they often feel dry and scaly to the touch. 

Actinic keratosis lesions commonly appear on sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, back of hands, forearms, or any other area frequently exposed to sunlight. In some cases, the patches may itch, burn, or bleed.

What causes actinic keratosis?

The primary cause of actinic keratosis is cumulative exposure to UV radiation over time. Sunlight and tanning beds emit UV rays that damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to abnormal cell growth. 

People with fair skin, light-colored eyes, and a history of sunburns are at a higher risk of developing actinic keratosis. In addition, older individuals and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to this condition.

How is actinic keratosis treated?

The Integrated Dermatology of Fairfax team offers several treatment options. The choice depends on the severity and number of lesions. 

Common treatment approaches include:

Topical medications

Prescription creams or gels containing ingredients like imiquimod, diclofenac, or fluorouracil can help eliminate actinic keratosis lesions.


Liquid nitrogen is applied to freeze and remove the affected skin.


A photosensitizing agent is applied to the skin, followed by exposure to light to destroy abnormal cells.

Laser therapy

Targeted laser treatment can selectively remove actinic keratosis lesions.


This treatment uses a high-frequency electrical current to remove the affected tissue.

Actinic keratosis can be managed with regular skin examinations, sun protection measures, and early intervention. These actions can stop its progression to skin cancer. 

If you have suspicious skin lesions, reach out to the Integrated Dermatology of Fairfax experts for a prompt evaluation and guidance. They can provide an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Call the friendly staff to book an appointment or schedule online today.