Actinic keratoses (AKs) are pre-malignant changes in the skin characterized by persistent, red, scaly areas. While they may be rubbed off and seem to disappear, they will recur in the same areas within a few weeks. They occur predominantly on areas of the skin that have had significant sun exposure including the face, scalp, neck, chest, hands, and forearms.
Actinic keratoses are most commonly treated with cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen). “Field therapy” with topical anti-cancer agents such as 5- fluorouracil and imiquimod or photodynamic therapy are recommended in those patients with numerous keratoses. Good sunscreens and minimizing sun exposure are important in the prevention of these precursors to squamous cell carcinoma.