Treatment for Actinic Keratosis | Belfast Skin Clinic

Actinic keratosis are caused by sun damage and arise on skin which has been chronically exposed to the sun.

They are most commonly found on the face, lips, ears, back of hands, forearms, scalp or neck.

Also known as solar keratosis, an actinic keratosis enlarges slowly and usually causes no signs or symptoms other than a patch or small spot on your skin. These lesions take years to develop, usually first appearing in older adults.

A small percentage of actinic keratosis lesions can eventually become skin cancer. You can reduce your risk of actinic keratosis by minimizing your sun exposure and protecting your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays.


The signs and symptoms of an actinic keratosis include:

  • Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin, usually less than 1 inch (2.5 centimetres) in diameter
  • Flat to slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin
  • In some cases, a hard, wart-like surface
  • Colour can vary as pink, red or brown, or flesh-coloured
  • Itching or burning in affected area

Actinic keratoses are found primarily on areas exposed to the sun, including your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp and neck.

Because it can be difficult to distinguish between noncancerous spots and cancerous ones, it’s best to have new skin changes evaluated by a dermatologist – especially if a spot or lesion persists, grows or bleeds.


A number of treatment options are available when treating actinic keratosis however, your Consultant will advise and direct your treatment plan accordingly.

Treatment options include;

  • Cryotherapy

    Freezing with liquid nitrogen. This procedure is completed on the day of consultation and may require several treatments to treat larger areas.

  • Topical treatments may be used to remove the sun damaged cells. The skin may appear inflamed and irritated during treatment but will heal well after the treatment course is completed.