What is Actinic Keratosis?

Rough, scaly patches on the skin that develop from years of exposure to the sun, actinic keratosis is commonly found on the face, lips, ears, back of the hands, forearms, scalp, or neck.

Also known as a solar keratosis, an actinic keratosis enlarges slowly and usually causes no signs or symptoms other than a patch or spot on the skin. These take years to develop, usually first appearing in people over 40. Risk of actinic keratoses can be reduced by minimizing sun exposure and protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays. If left untreated, some spots may progress to squamous cell carcinoma. If treated early, most actinic keratoses can be cleared or removed before they develop into skin cancer.


Actinic keratoses are typically treated with liquid nitrogen sprayed on the area. This treatment is known as cryosurgery or cryotherapy, which does not involve cutting of the skin but uses extreme cold produced by liquid nitrogen to destroy abnormal tissue. Cryosurgery is typically used to treat precancerous lesions. Liquid nitrogen can be applied to the skin with a spraying device or a cotton swab. Mild blistering and tenderness are expected results and part of the normal process for destruction of abnormal tissue.

Got questions or concerns about medical skin conditions and procedures? Contact us to schedule a consultation. Knott Street Dermatology in Portland also tends to patients from nearby Lake Oswego, West Linn, Beaverton and Clackamas.

Knott Street Aesthetics | Knott Street Dermatology | Skin Care Center | Portland Oregon

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