Cumulative sun exposure may lead to the development of actinic keratoses (AKs). Although known commonly as “pre-cancers” due to the presence of atypical cells seen under the microscope, these lesions carry no inherent risk of metastasis and do not affect your lifespan. Treatment, however, is recommended to prevent the development of a true skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.

AKs are among the most frequent skin condition in middle-age and older Caucasian patients. Typically they are pink or red growths with texture and can occur anywhere on the body.


Patients who have single or few AKs can be treated with local destructive techniques such as cryotherapy (“freezing”), electrodessication, or topical treatment applied at home. In the setting of multiple AKs, light-based treatment (photodynamic therapy) and chemical peels such as trichloracetic acid may be recommended.