Actinic Keratosis Treatment in Miami

Image of doctor holding hand out with the words "actinic keratosis" in his hand

Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, forms after years of sun exposure. This common skin condition is also one of the most frequently treated at Kendall Dermatology. If you think you have actinic keratosis, call 305-595-0393 to book an evaluation with our skilled providers or read on for more information.

What Causes Actinic Keratosis?

Solar keratosis gets its nickname from the thing that causes it: chronic exposure to sunlight. However, you might have an increased risk of developing actinic keratosis if the following factors apply:
  • You have a history of frequent sun exposure or sunburns.
  • You have red or blonde hair, freckles, and light-colored eyes.
  • You’re over the age of 40. 
  • You play outdoor sports or work outside.
  • You live in a sunny climate like Miami.
If you have these risk factors, you should take extra precautions in the sun by wearing protective hats, clothing, and SPF 30+. You could also benefit from more frequent skin cancer screenings.

What Does Actinic Keratosis Look Like?

Actinic keratosis is characterized by rough, dry, or scaly patches of skin that are usually less than an inch in diameter. These lesions can be flat or slightly raised and in some cases have a hard surface.  Some people with solar keratosis experience burning, bleeding, crusting, or itching. You might also notice some color variations including pink, white, brown, or red across the patch. Actinic keratosis tends to appear on areas of the body that get more sun exposure like the neck, head, hands, and forearms, but it can develop anywhere.

What Percent of Actinic Keratosis Turns Into Cancer?

Not all actinic keratosis turns into skin cancer, but it’s important to seek treatment to avoid future health issues. About 10 percent of these lesions eventually develop into cancer, and of those that do, most are squamous cell carcinomas.

What Is the Best Treatment for Actinic Keratosis?

Our providers will likely recommend treating your actinic keratosis to reduce your future cancer risk. Removal methods include:
  • Cryotherapy: Your solar keratosis is frozen to destroy atypical cells.
  • Curettage: Actinic keratosis can often be scraped away with a surgical tool.
  • Topical medications: Prescription creams and gels like fluorouracil, imiquimod, or diclofenac can clear some actinic keratosis.
  • Chemical peels: This noninvasive option can slough away solar keratosis cells leaving healthy skin behind.
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT): PDT involves applying a photosensitive topical medication to your actinic keratosis and then activating the medication with a blue light device. This treatment can eliminate lesions over several treatments 
Removal can typically be performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Our providers will consider several factors when choosing the right treatment for you, including the size of your actinic keratosis, your health history including current medications or bleeding disorders, and your desired cosmetic outcome. Patients usually return to their normal activities (barring any strenuous exercise) on the same day.


Far-skinned individuals, aged 40 to 50 years of age, are more prone to actinic keratosis. Nonetheless, individuals of any age may develop such lesions, particularly in warm, sunny climates. Teenagers are often diagnosed with the condition. Actinic keratosis is also more likely to occur in individuals who spend a great deal of time in the sun, or who frequent tanning parlors.


A dermatologist should always be consulted about any suspicious lesions on the skin. Unless such a lesion is immediately identifiable by the physician as benign, a surgical biopsy may be performed to determine whether it is premalignant or cancerous. The biopsy procedure is small and painless and takes place in the doctor’s office. A pathology report will be available in a week or two to determine whether further treatment is necessary.


Because individuals who have had an actinic keratosis are more likely to have another lesion of this type and are also at greater risk of developing a squamous carcinoma, they should always opt to have full body checks with their dermatologist at regular intervals. Patients who have been treated for this condition should also avoid sunlight as much as possible. When they are exposed to the sun, they should be careful to wear adequate protection, including sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, protective sunglasses, long sleeves and long pants whenever possible, and wide-brimmed hats. They should also, of course, avoid tanning parlors.

Schedule Your Actinic Keratosis Consultation in Miami

If you’re experiencing symptoms of actinic keratosis, the highly skilled providers at Kendall Dermatology can help. We utilize the latest techniques in clinical and cosmetic dermatology to ensure our patients’ skin stays healthy and beautiful. Contact our Miami, Florida dermatology practice at 305-595-0393 to book a consultation and learn more about our actinic keratosis treatment options.

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