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What are the therapeutic options for actinic keratoses?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

There are many effective therapeutic options, including topical immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and photodynamic therapy. A dermatologist will weigh the pros and cons with the patient. Some treatments (such as chemotherapy creams), can be done at home but will take weeks, and some are done in the office in one day but can require quite a bit of recovery time. Each method is a destructive modality and has its share of side effects, but all of them can prove effective at eliminating actinic keratoses and preventing them from turning into squamous cell cancer. There is no single perfect method, which is why my approach is combination therapy. Rather than one massive treatment, I use a little bit of everything and keep treating and monitoring the patient every three to six months until the lesions are all gone. If someone has one small lesion, doctors usually choose to excise it or use liquid nitrogen on the spot. But if there are many red, scaly areas (called a field effect), treating them is going to be a three-times-a-year cycle of therapies to get the damage to slowly go away.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.