Also known as Solar Keratoses, Actinic keratoses are areas of sun-damaged skin found
predominantly on sun-exposed parts of the body, particularly the backs of the hands
and forearms, the face and ears, the scalp in balding men and the lower legs in women.
The terms actinic and solarare from Greek and Latin, respectively, for ‘sunlight-induced’,
and the term keratosis refers to thickened or horny skin. They are usually harmless
but there is a very small risk of some actinic keratoses progressing to a form of
skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Actinic keratoses generally do not occur
as individual lesions but rather as patchy change within a sundamaged area of skin.
are caused by excessive sun exposure over many years (from sunbathing, sunbed use,
outdoor work or recreational activities) and are therefore more common in older people.
Fair-skinned, blue-eyed, red- or blonde-haired individuals, who burn easily in the
sun but tan poorly, are at particular risk.
In the UK actinic keratoses are generally considered a precancerous skin condition
lying at the mild end of a spectrum of skin disease ranging from precancerous actinic
keratosis through superficial ‘in-situ’ squamous cell skin cancer (Bowen’s disease)
to invasive squamouns cell carcinoma of the skin.
Treatments for Actinic Keratosis include a number of topical treatment options; 5
fluorouracil (Efudix) cream, Imiquimod (Aldara or Zyclara) cream, Diclofenac (Solaraze)
Gel and Picato (Ingenol Mebutate) Gel.
Other options include; Cryotherapy, Photodynamic Therapy and Skin surgery (Curettage
Dr Murdoch uses all of these treatment options in his practice and will decide with
patients the best treatment option in their case.
Before and after photos of Aktinic Keratoses treated with curettage and cautery to
the large lesion and then Efudix Cream to the rest of the forhead.