Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideSun-Damaged Skin: Pictures of Sun Spots, Wrinkles, Sunburns

Sun-Damaged Skin: Pictures of Sun Spots, Wrinkles, Sunburns

Are there home remedies for actinic keratoses?

There are no home remedies for actinic keratoses, but most will resolve spontaneously if sun exposure can be strictly limited. Those lesions that do not resolve need professional medical attention.

Is it possible to prevent actinic keratoses?

Sun avoidance is the simplest way to avoid actinic keratoses. This would include applications of SPF 50 sunscreens to exposed skin, wearing sun-protective clothing, shade-seeking behavior, and avoiding tanning. Concerns about vitamin D deficiency can be avoided by taking multivitamin supplements.

What is the prognosis of an actinic keratosis?

Patients who develop actinic keratoses are usually well advised to have a doctor examine them at least annually. The purpose of these regular checks is to be sure that new lesions have not developed and that old ones are not becoming thicker and more suspicious looking (for cancer). Furthermore, continual avoidance of excessive sun exposure can decrease the risk of recurrences.


Costa, Claudia, et al. "How to Treat Actinic Keratosis? An Update." J Dermatol Case Rep 9.2 (2015): 29-35.

Uhlenhake, E.E. "Optimal treatment of actinic keratoses." Clin Interv Aging 8 (2013): 29-35.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2016

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