Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis (AK) are common precancerous growths that occur when the skin has been damaged by ultraviolet rays from chronic sun exposure or indoor tanning. If left untreated, actinic keratosis may progress into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. The good news is that AKs can be treated before they become skin cancers.


AK most commonly occurs on sun-exposed areas, including the face, ears, scalp, neck, foreheads, and backs of hands. They are pink-red in color and are often felt as rough dry spots on the skin. People who have fair skin, light hair and/or eyes are at greater risk of developing actinic keratosis.

What Causes It?

Actinic keratosis is caused by excessive exposure to the sun or to indoor tanning. The ultraviolet rays damage the skin, causing unsightly lesions that can develop into cancer. Since it is caused by sun damage, is most common among fair-skinned people and among older people who have been in the sun more. A history of tanning, sunburns, and/or immunosuppression will also increase your risk of actinic keratosis.

Treatment Options

Your dermatologist will likely be able to diagnose actinic keratosis by its characteristic appearance, but in some cases, a biopsy is needed to evaluate whether the actinic keratosis has progressed into a skin cancer. Precursor lesions which may progress into squamous cell carcinoma occur in up to 10% of cases and thus need to be treated.

Depending on the location, size and number of actinic keratosis you have, there are several different treatment modalities that may be used. Some of the common treatments for actinic keratosis include cryotherapy (freezing individual lesions) with liquid nitrogen) or field treatment for more diffuse/widespread involvement with topical chemotherapeutic agents, topical immunomodulators or photodynamic therapy.

There are also topical treatments such as chemotherapy cream that prevents cancerous cells from multiplying. Immune modulators such as imiquimod can also be used topically to prevent the growth of cancerous cells. Chemical peels are another topical treatment that uses a powerful acid to remove skin cells. While they are primarily used for rejuvenation, but strong peels can remove the entire upper layer of the skin, instantly removing the lesion. Side effects from peels can be temporarily painful or unsightly, so be sure to ask during your consultation if this is an appropriate treatment for you.

Locations with this service

38162 Medical Center Ave
Zephyrhills, FL 33540
2625 Executive Park Dr, Suite 7
Weston, FL 33331
Venice Health Park 
1295 Jacaranda Blvd.
Venice, FL 34292
Tampa Palms 
15310 Amberly Dr, Suite 150
Tampa, FL 33647
Sun City Center 
1007 E Del Webb Blvd, Suite 101
Sun City Center, FL 33573
St. Petersburg 
2299 9th Avenue N, Suite 1D
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Pembroke Pines 
603 N Flamingo Rd, Suite 350
Pembroke Pines, FL 33028
9015 US Highway 301 N
Parrish, FL 34219
North Port – Commons 
14840 Tamiami Trail
North Port, FL 34287
North Port – Bobcat Village 
2481 Bobcat Village Center Rd, Suite 101
North Port, FL 34288
Naples – North 
1015 Crosspointe Dr.
Naples, FL 34110
Naples – Downtown 
261 9th St S
Naples, FL 34102
Naples – Colonial Square 
1108 Goodlette-Frank Rd. N.
Naples, FL 34102
Naples – Central 
9125 Corsea Del Fontana Way, Suite 100
Naples, FL 34109
Formerly Bowes Dermatology
Mercy Professional Building Suite 6008
3659 S Miami Ave, Suite 6008
Miami, FL 33133
Marco Island 
950 N Collier Blvd, Suite 303
Marco Island, FL 34145
Lakewood Ranch 
8340 Lakewood Ranch Blvd, Suite 260
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202
Fort Myers – West 
9400 Gladiolus Dr, Suite 320
Fort Myers, FL 33908
Fort Myers – South 
7331 Gladiolus Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33908
Fort Myers – The Forum 
3268 Forum Blvd, Suite 201
Fort Myers, FL 33905
406 N Indiana Ave
Englewood, FL 34223
Deerfield Beach 
1880 W Hillsboro Blvd, Suite A
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
1122 Druid Rd E
Clearwater, FL 33756
Cape Coral – Surfside 
2366 Surfside Blvd, Suite C111
Cape Coral, FL 33991
Cape Coral 
413 Del Prado Blvd S, Suite 101
Cape Coral, FL 33990
Bonita Springs 
25987 S Tamiami Trail, Unit 90
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Boca Raton – East 
200 Glades Road, Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Bay Harbor Islands 
1111 Kane Concourse, Suite 100
Bay Harbor Islands, FL 33154
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