Actinic keratosis

It appears as small spots with a rough surface, with a colour that is light red, sometimes more yellowish, sometimes darker. Sometimes it itches. Most actinic keratosis occurs on the head, neck, upper arms or hands, often on fair skin and most often in the elderly. A well-known study found solar keratosis in 38% of the population in the Netherlands who were over 50 years old. That's how common it is.

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If actinic keratosis is suspected

If you suspect that you have developed actinic keratosis, it is important to contact a dermatologist and avoid sun exposure until your appointment.

There are several different treatments that the dermatologist may suggest. One of these is imiquimod cream. This cream modifies the body's immune response and is highly effective in making solar keratoses disappear. Another treatment option is cryotherapy, where the doctor freezes the spots using liquid nitrogen.

PDT (photodynamic therapy) treatment is also an option. This is a modified form of light therapy, where a chemical treatment is applied beforehand to make the skin light-sensitive. PDT treatment is particularly beneficial in areas where you want to avoid scarring or loss of pigmentation. While the treatment can be relatively expensive, it is well suited for actinic keratoses on the face.

If your doctor suspects cancer, it is easy to submit a biopsy to the laboratory for testing.


Treatment is usually very effective and will end the problem, but you will be vulnerable to relapse. This makes it important to stay away from the sun and be aware of if you get new spots.

actinic keratosis and cancer

Actinic keratosis can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, but it is rare. If you protect yourself from the sun in the places where you have received actinic keratosis, around 25% of the early spots can disappear on their own.

About 60% of all squamous cell carcinomas originate from actinic keratosis, but it is far from all actinic keratoses that develop into cancer. There is about a quarter per cent chance of developing cancer per year per spot. The chance of developing cancer, therefore, depends on how many spots you have and how long you have had them. If you have several spots with actinic keratosis, treatment is recommended.

This is how Dr. Dropin can help you

At Dr.Dropin, you can visit experienced dermatologists who can diagnose and treat all skin disorders. Dr.Dropin is committed to providing excellent dermatology services at a fixed and predictable price, with short waiting times.

Read more about Dr. Dropin hereBook appointment

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