Once upon a time, the glow of a deep tan was often looked at with envy. Before science and cosmetic researched revealed the underlying truth, tanning was an enviable activity whether it be out in the open or by tanning bed. Today, it’s become common knowledge that millions of skin disorders can be linked back to overexposure to the sun. Damaging UV rays are responsible for scarring the surface of the skin and causing everything from aesthetically displeasing results over the long-term to the development of skin cancer later on.
One of the most common skin conditions left as a result of exposure to UV rays is Actinic Keratosis. This condition presents most commonly in older adults as a collection of dry, rough and scaly patches across the skin. The majority of patients suffering from Actinic Keratosis will go on to have these patches removed as there is a great deal of potential for this condition to transition into skin cancer if left untreated. Early diagnosis is key to staying ahead of skin cancer development and understanding the many treatment options is a great way to have a plan in place if a diagnosis is eventually made.
For many patients, the early stages of Actinic Keratosis will be accompanied by the development of flat, rough spots across the skin. These patches tend to grow outward and are often initially dismissed as small warts. The vast majority of patients report these spots to be itchy or tender to the touch. While there is a chance these patches may disappear on their own, the more likely scenario is that they will return in a more severe form. Today, it is estimated by experts that somewhere around 58 million Americans struggle with this skin condition. It’s anticipated that these numbers will keep growing making it more important than ever for patients to be able to recognize the symptoms early on.
Once a physician has diagnosed a patient with Actinic Keratosis, it’s likely that an Actinic Keratosis treatment plan involving topical solutions will be put into place. For some individuals suffering from this condition, the use of 5-Fluorouracil or Imiquimod, both used frequently as chemo-therapy ointments, proves to be effective. In the event additional treatment is needed, the next step is often to undergo a chemical peel in order to remove the top layer of damaged skin and allow new, healthy cells to be exposed.
More severe cases of Actinic Keratosis may require surgical procedures. These may include cryosurgery, curettage, and desiccation or laser surgery options. Those who undergo cryosurgery have patches frozen off using liquid nitrogen while curettage and desiccation involves scraping off the problematic patches with heat which closes the wound and eliminates excessive bleeding in the process. Sometimes, a physician may deem it necessary to treat a patient using a combination of the above-stated methods. On average, these combination therapy options are performed over the course of a year or more depending on the severity of the condition.
Once a diagnosis of Actinic Keratosis has been made and a treatment plan has been carried out, it’s important that patients adhere to follow-up recommendations in order to maintain clear and healthy skin in the long term. Cosmetic physicians and dermatologists alike agree that staying out of the sun is the best advice after undergoing treatment of any type of Actinic Keratosis. Avoiding UV rays as much as possible reduces the likelihood of patches returning and potentially transitioning into skin cancer more quickly the second time around.
The price tag associated with Actinic Keratosis treatment is highly dependent on the severity of the condition. Topical treatment options will come with a vastly different price tag than surgical procedures. The cost of treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on the extent of patches needing treatment, type of treatment required and number of sessions to achieve desirable results. The team at the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center are on hand to discuss the many in-house financing options we have available for patients.
There’s no reason to wait when it comes to keeping your skin healthy. Contact the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Wright. Whether you’re concerned about the potential of Actinic Keratosis or simply want to learn more about the many skin care services we offer, we’re here to help you on your journey to change. We take a comprehensive approach to patient care and your comfort and safety are always a top priority. We can’t wait to hear from you!
(Image By Future FamDoc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)