Actinic Keratosis shows up as a small, rough spot on the skin, generally in a place that has been exposed to the sun over a period of time. This type of Keratosis, or rough, scaly patches of skin, is also known as Solar Keratosis. It most often shows up in fair-skinned individuals that have been exposed to the sun for many years. Some of the most common locations are the face, ears, back of the neck, scalp, chest, and hands and forearms.
Actinic Keratosis is precancerous, which means they can very easily develop into skin cancer. It can usually be diagnosed easily, and the best proactive treatment is minimizing sun exposure, especially to the affected areas. Other treatments include scraping and burning, skin peels, photodynamic therapy, and other methods offered at our office.
Actinic Keratosis is usually anywhere from 2-6 mm in diameter and red in color. They have a rough feel to them and sometimes have a white or yellow scale on top. Sometimes they give off a prickling type of pain when they are touched. They can be surrounded by wrinkles as well.
To prevent getting these in the first place, you need to limit your time in the sun and/or wear protective clothing and sunscreen. If you think you may be developing these spots, the warning signs include new skin lesions in areas exposed to the sun, moles that change in color or size when they are in the sun, skin lesions that crack or bleed, or other variations in your skin when you are out in the sun. If you have any warning signs, schedule a consultation with our medical team as soon as possible. Actinic Keratosis is a precancerous issue. If it is cared for quickly and decisively, you have less chance of developing skin cancer.
There are some different treatments for this issue, and what you choose will depend on how much you have, where it is located, and what is determined during your consultation and examination. Cryosurgery is the most common treatment when you have a small number of lesions to deal with. This treatment is outpatient, and is often performed without cutting or anesthesia. You will have liquid nitrogen applied to the area with an applicator, which freezes the growth. The lesion will then shrink, blister, and fall off. You may be swollen in the area for a short while and it may be red, but most patients recover fully. Some may see white spots in the area if they have lost pigment from the lesion or treatment.
There are also topical medications like creams, gels and other solutions that help when the issue is more widespread and harder to manage. If you spot an irregularity on your skin that looks like it might be Actinic Keratosis, contact Dermatology Associates to schedule a consultation. When it comes to abnormalities on your skin, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.