What is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic keratosis (AK) is a scaly, rough, crusty lesion that forms on the skin in spots exposed to the sun. It often appears on the lips, face, scalp, ears, shoulders, and other places regularly exposed. Generally, the affected regions will have several lesions. The lesions grow progressively over time and might vanish and reappear. They are often itchy, uncomfortable, and eventually become inflamed. This skin condition is considered precancerous so it could be a cause of concern if it isn't treated and could become cancer. During your exam at our Great Neck, NY office, we will discuss your condition and non surgical options for treatment.
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Causes of AK
Chronic sun exposure is the principal instigator of actinic keratosis, and it is more common in older patients with years of sun damage. While only a small percentage of AKs turn into skin cancer, it's important to understand exactly what this skin condition presents as and how to treat it. In a lot of cases, this skin condition shows up as lesions that appear red and scaly, in addition to clusters of bumps and dark crusty areas that do not heal.
Symptoms of actinic keratosis
After the skin condition first appears, it might only feel like rough texture of your skin. Sometimes, this area may itch and be inflamed. Over time, particularly if it is exposed to more sun, the patchy area will turn red, scaly, bumpy, and inflamed and continue to grow. The more they spread, the higher the odds of developing skin cancer. Any warning sign should be assessed as soon as possible by a professional so therapy can be provided and potential prevention discussed.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential so an isolated case of actinic keratosis doesn't become cancer. The treatment option recommended will vary based on numerous factors, such as your age and health, skin color, how prevalent the problem is, growth characteristics of the lesion(s), area, etc. Frequently used treatment options include:
- Cryosurgery: using liquid nitrogen to remove lesions
- Electrodesiccation and Curettage: a process that removes skin lesions by scraping the skin down to a healthy layer
- Medicines: certain medication can be helpful in minimizing the appearance and volume of lesions and decreasing the incidence of scarring
- Photo Dynamic Therapy: This is a two stage treatment that combines a photo sensitizing cream with light energy to destroy cancerous and pre cancerous cells. "This is an extremely effective way to treat large areas of sun damage with an excellent cosmetic result" according to Dr. Adam Bodian
Learn more about Treatment Options
In case you have lesions that you think may be linked to sunlight exposure and might be an actinic keratosis, we recommend contacting Bodian Dermatology in Great Neck, NY to arrange your appointment. Virtually all AKs can be removed if caught and treated early. We will provide a thorough analysis of your skin and provide the very best possible recommendation for a healthy, long-term outcome.