Treatment For Actinic Keratosis

How To Prevent & Treat Solar Keratosis

Actinic keratosis (AK), also called solar keratosis, is a scabrous skin growth caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. In rare cases, artificial sources of UV, such as X-rays, can also cause actinic keratosis. These skin growths usually appear in groups called “keratoses,” which are most common in facial areas prone to sun exposure, such as the cheeks; forehead; ears; shoulders; scalp; and neck. Keratoses can also form on the limbs, including on the forearms, back of the hands, and shins.

Symptoms Of Actinic Keratosis

The color of actinic keratosis can match the patient’s normal skin color or appear as red patches on the skin; they may also have a gray or pink hue. Texturally, the growths start out as flat and then grow bulbous over time. Because the symptoms of actinic keratosis can come and go over time, it’s  imperative to contact the dermatologists in Boardman and Howland, OH, with Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center if you spot any of these symptoms:

  • Unseen but rough-feeling patches of skin;
  • A rough growth or patch of skin that’s painful when rubbed or touched;
  • Burning and/or itching skin; and
  • Constantly dry lips.

If a lesion or patch disappears, it may reappear within several days or weeks, usually if the affected area is exposed to the sun.

Who Is At Risk For Actinic Keratosis?

Most at risk for actinic keratosis are people with fair skin tones, blonde or red hair, and blue, green, or gray eyes. However, anyone with chronic sun exposure and sun damage can experience this skin condition that affects more than 10 million Americans each year.

Is Actinic Keratosis Cancer?

Technically, actinic keratosis is designated as a precancerous skin condition or growth because there’s a potential for malignant cells to form in the lesions. Malignant cells can then cause squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. A skin specialist with Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center will assess the risk for cancer by performing a biopsy of the area, including examining the sample in a laboratory setting.

What Is The Best Treatment For Actinic Keratosis?

Avoiding sun damage to the skin is the best way to prevent actinic keratosis. If lesions form, early intervention with treatment can significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of skin cancer.

The most suitable actinic keratosis treatment is based on the results of the biopsy and may include:

  • Surgical Removal: The lesion is cut off and the area cauterized.
  • Chemical Peel: A chemical solution peels off the top layer of skin to remove the keratosis.
  • Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen is applied to freeze off the lesion.
  • Photodynamic Therapy: A dye is used to accentuate the lesion, which is then treated by a laser.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Topical medications are prescribed to reduce inflammation in superficial cases of keratosis.
  • Chemotherapeutic Agents: 5 Fluorouracil and Aldara are applied as topical treatments.

What Is The Difference Between Actinic Keratosis & Seborrheic Keratosis?

In terms of appearance, seborrheic lesions have earth-tones, such as brown or tan, and are flat or vaguely raised from the skin surface, compared to scabrous and red actinic keratosis. Seborrheic keratosis growths are also benign, whereas actinic keratosis lesions can be cancerous.

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