Treatment options for actinic keratosis include topical medications, cryosurgery, combination therapies, chemical peeling, laser surgery and photodynamic therapy, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Actinic keratosis can be just a single spot on the skin or a cluster of lesions over an affected area, according to Mayo Clinic. The SCF explains actinic keratosis is the most common form of precancerous skin cells that form due to overexposure to ultraviolet light.
Topical medications are appropriate treatments for several actinic keratoses. The SCF states that the most widely used cream is 5-fluorouracil, a substance that cures up to 93 percent of actinic keratoses when applied to lesions one to two times daily for up to four weeks. Imiquimod is a cream that stimulates the immune system to remove lesions. Diclofenac prevents inflammation in the skin. Picato, or ingenol mebutate, works as fast as two or three days instead of several weeks as with other topical treatments.
With limited lesions, cryosurgery is a viable choice for many patients. The SCF indicates that liquid nitrogen freezes the growths before they crust and fall off. Topical creams and cryosurgery are used together in combination therapies.
Chemical peeling, laser surgery and photodynamic therapy work for lesions on the face and scalp. Chemical peels remove the outermost layer of the skin, including the precancerous cells. Laser surgery cuts the cells without bleeding. Photodynamic therapy uses strong light to activate the chemical cream 5-aminolevulinic acid to destroy keratosis cells, according to the SCF.