Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a precancerous skin condition caused by chronic exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays. This common skin condition affects an estimated 58 million Americans is more common with age.
Evaluation of Actinic Keratosis
Symptoms of actinic keratosis include rough scaly spots on sun exposed skin, usually the face, ears, neck, arms and hands. Occasionally the lesions may itch or hurt, but often are asymptomatic. AKs sometimes disappear only to reappear later, particularly after periods of sun exposure.
Patients with actinic keratosis who schedule an appointment in a dermatology clinic may do so for cosmetic reasons. However, this condition requires evaluation and appropriate treatment to prevent progression to skin cancer. These lesions are often diagnosed clinically by your dermatologist, but may occasionally require a biopsy.
How Your Dermatologist Treats Actinic Keratosis
Treatments used to destroy actinic keratosis include:
- Cryotherapy / Cryosurgery: Common office procedure in which Liquid Nitrogen is used to “freeze” and destroy the affected skin. Treatment often results in blisters which gradually crust and heal in 2-3 weeks. If a lesion continues to persist after treatment, it needs to be addressed with your dermatologist.
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): An office procedure which uses a photosensitizing agent called Levulan (Aminolevulinic Acid 20%) along with a light source to help treat sun damaged and precancerous cells.
- Chemical Peels: An office procedure in which a chemical or acid is applied to the skin and results in the destruction and sloughing of precancerous cells. Patients may have some redness and peeling of the skin can last 1-2 weeks.
- Medicated Creams or Gels: Topical chemotherapy or other agents may be applied to the skin to help treat and prevent the progression of actinic keratosis. These creams can be used in addition to cryotherapy to help clean up sun damaged skin and remaining precancerous cells. Common side effects include inflammation and irritation of the skin.
Depending on your skin type and degree of sun damage, a dermatologist can help determine the right option for you.
Dr. Aboutalebi is a board certified dermatologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of actinic keratosis and other skin lesions. At Northstar Dermatology, we treat patients from Keller, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills and surrounding areas in North Texas. Call our dermatology clinic today at 817-427-3376 to schedule your consultation.
Contact our office today at 817-427-3376 to learn more about Actinic Keratosis or to make an appointment with Dr. Aboutalebi.