Diagnosis

Your doctor will likely be able to determine whether you have an actinic keratosis simply by examining your skin. If there's any doubt, he or she may do other tests, such as a skin biopsy. During a skin biopsy, your doctor takes a small sample of your skin for analysis in a lab. A biopsy can usually be done in a doctor's office after a numbing injection.

Even after treatment for actinic keratosis, your doctor will likely suggest that you have your skin checked at least once a year for signs of skin cancer.

Nov. 09, 2016
References
  1. Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Epithelial precancerous lesions. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
  2. Padilla RS. Epidemiology, natural history and diagnosis of actinic keratosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
  3. Wolff K, et al. Photosensitivity, photo-induced disorders and disorders by ionizing radiation. In: Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed June 19, 2015.
  4. Actinic keratosis. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/actinic-keratosis. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
  5. Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 21, 2016.
  6. Jorizzo J. Treatment of actinic keratosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
  7. FDA sheds light on sunscreens. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm258416.htm. Accessed Aug. 5, 2016.
  8. AskMayoExpert. Actinic keratosis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  9. Habif TP. Light-related diseases and disorders of pigmentation. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Maryland Heights, Mo.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 19, 2015.
  10. Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed Sept. 26, 2016.
  11. Lebwohl M. Actinic keratosis. JAMA. 2016;315:1394.