Actinic Keratosis (AK) also known as Solar Keratosis or Sun Spots are small rough areas of skin that may be red or feel like sandpaper.

They will usually occur along with other signs of photodamage including wrinkling and uneven pigment in the skin.

Actinic Keratosis develops in areas of chronically sun-damaged skin. These lesions are considered pre-cancerous and should be treated to prevent progression to skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.


Sunscreens and Prevention

Sun avoidance and the regular use of a high SPF sunscreen can help to limit further damage and sunspots. You should look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, with an SPF of at least 30+.

Some cosmetic ingredients can also give mild improvement in sun damage in the long term. These ingredients include prescription Vitamin A, high strength AHA’s such as glycolic acid, and niacinamide. Our nurses are able to give you advise on the products containing the highest concentrations of these ingredients.


Cryotherapy is a procedure where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy the area of sun damage. This is most suitable for a small number of lesions. The procedure is quick and done by the dermatologist at the time of your appointment, afterwards the lesion may blister or be red for up to 10 days.

Prescription Cream Treatments

Prescription creams (such as “Efudix”) are available, which can treat a larger area of your skin at once than cryotherapy. The treatment involves applying the cream to the specified area e.g. the forehead or backs of hands. After several days the sunspots become red and inflamed, and this redness continues for a few weeks after the cream is stopped.

Treatment may last from 2-6 weeks at a time and is prescribed by the dermatologist. The redness can be quite intense and will often require some planning to find a convenient time to do the treatment. Some treatments will make you very sun sensitive during the course and these are often prescribed in winter.