Exposure to the sun over the years has caused outbreaks of UV related disorders in millions of people, and although we know better today, tan skin was once considered a sign of health and beauty. Today, we understand that a tan is simply a scar caused by injury to the sun. Other issues caused by overexposure to the sun’s damaging rays include leathery skin that is dry and lifeless, melanomas, and actinic keratosis, a condition that presents as patches of skin that are rough, scaly, and unsightly.
Not considered cancerous at first and appearing mostly in older adults, actinic keratosis is often removed, as it can later become cancerous if it’s not cared for and watched over time. Early diagnosis and treatment of this skin condition can save lives down the road. Read on to learn all about actinic keratosis treament!
Although they start out as flat and rough spots on your skin, AK can grow outward, starting to look like a small wart, and can be itchy or tender. Sometimes they disappear, but if you haven’t treated them, they will come back. Over 58 million Americans are currently living with actinic keratosis, and the numbers keep growing.
Treatments of actinic keratosis will vary, ranging from cryosurgery to laser surgery, topical treatments, phototherapy, or even a combination therapy where two or more treatments are utilized together.
Surgical procedures include cryosurgery (freezing the AK with liquid nitrogen), curettage and desiccation (scraping off the AK with heat to stop the bleeding), and laser surgery.
Some topical treatments of actinic keratosis include the use of chemo or cancer ointments, including 5-fluorouracil and imiquimod, both which have been found to be helpful in removing cancers, but they also sometimes use a basic chemical peel.
Combination therapy is an extended process that generally uses cryosurgery with photodynamic therapy (a light sensitive ointment is spread over the skin and then a strong light will kill your AK without damaging the skin around) or topical agents. This type of process will take place over a year and is used when there is a lot of skin damage from AK.
We all know the harm that the sun’s rays can cause, but we still have a tendency to think we’re immortal and “just a little sun won’t be bad, right?” (We think you know the answer to that!) Dr. Wright and our wonderful staff at the Laser Lipo & Vein Center know better, and we have seen the dangers of over-exposure repeatedly over the years. If you think you might have actinic keratosis, schedule an appointment with us today and after an examination, we can explore your actinic keratosis treatment options!
(Image By Future FamDoc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)