Bowen’s Disease Treatment | Belfast Skin Clinic

Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, often called Bowen’s disease, a growth of cancerous cells that is confined to the outer layer of the skin.

This is not a serious condition but left untreated can progress into invasive skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma.

Atypical squamous cells proliferate through the whole thickness of the Epidermis. The lesions may occur anywhere on the skin surface or on mucosal surfaces. The cause most frequently found is trivalent Arsenic Compounds. Freezing, Cauterisation or Diathermy coagulation is often effective.


Bowen’s disease starts as a small red scaly area, which grows very slowly. It may reach a diameter of a few centimetres across. It commonly occurs on sun-exposed skin, especially on the face, scalp and neck.

Patients should look out for development of an ulcer or lump on a patch of Bowen’s disease as they may serve as an indication that squamous cell carcinoma has formed.


A number of treatment options are available when treating Bowen’s disease however, your Consultant will advise and direct your treatment plan accordingly.

Treatment options include;

  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen

    This procedure is completed on the day of consultation and may require several repeat treatments to target larger areas.

  • Curettage

    This treatment involves scraping off the abnormal skin under local anaesthetic and allowing the affected area to heal on its own.

  • Excision

    Excision is also a potential treatment option. This would require local anaesthetic were the surgeon would cut out the affected area and stitch the skin to leave a small scar. If surgery is required, the Consultant will discuss this treatment plan and recovery in full.

  • Topical Treatments

    Topical treatments may be used to control or eradicate the onset of Bowen’s disease by killing off abnormal cells. The skin may appear inflamed and irritated during treatment but will heal well after the treatment course is completed.