06 Nov Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis is a common skin condition, but much lesser known than acne. It is rarely dangerous, but does result in bumps that are rough and scaly—but don’t worry. It’s one of the many conditions we treat at RefinedMD. Actinic keratosis is most common in skin that is exposed to the sun such as the face, limbs, and scalp. Usually, actinic keratosis presents as red or pink, and the areas can be itchy or tender. Excessive sun exposure and damage causes this skin condition, and although it is not harmful it can decrease confidence.
Treatment options for actinic keratosis varies based on the degree of the condition and patient skin type or sensitivity. The most effective treatments include prescription medications, but other non-invasive treatments like lasers can also help. Treating actinic keratosis quickly and efficiently is important because in some cases these lesions may be pre-cancerous. Since the condition is caused by excessive sun damage, including the use of tanning beds or spending hours unprotected in the sun, it can sometimes be a precursor to cancer. Only a dermatologist can determine if a biopsy is needed. Trying to treat actinic keratosis with over-the-counter options is often ineffective and possibly risky, so always depend on a pro.
Getting Clear, Healthy Skin
In some rare cases, untreated actinic keratosis can progress to skin cancer. Although it is most likely to progress to squamous cell carcinoma, there is always a risk of melanoma—the deadliest form of any skin cancer. It is always a good idea to have any bump, lump, tender skin area, or troubling spot evaluated by a skilled dermatologist when they appear or during your annual skin check. Sometimes actinic keratosis is wrongly identified by patients as anything from acne to a new mole or freckle. This can lead to putting off scheduling a dermatology appointment or not scheduling an evaluation at all.
Even though actinic keratosis is almost always benign and not dangerous, remember that your skin is the largest organ of the body. It is repeatedly exposed to hazardous UV rays even for people who regularly wear sunscreen and are mindful of time spent outdoors. Catching skin cancer early, including through early treatment of actinic keratosis, is the best form of skin cancer prevention.
Taking Care of This Skin Condition
There is no one size fits all solution to treating and removing actinic keratosis or any pre-cancerous lesion. Trusting skin experts with a preeminent reputation and the latest, proven technology and medications will result in the most desirable results. Only during an evaluation for actinic keratosis can you discover which treatment plan is ideal for you.
We are committed to ensuring each patient has both healthy and attractive skin. It is rare for actinic keratosis to involve a large area, but it can develop in areas which are highly visible, such as the face. If removing the actinic keratosis results in a scar or dark spot, there are cosmetic dermatological treatments available. Combining the removal of actinic keratosis with an aesthetic treatment is a common and popular option. In some cases, it may be necessary to wait a few weeks post-actinic keratosis removal before considering a cosmetic treatment.
Preventing Actinic Keratosis
Preventing actinic keratosis requires the same approach as preventing any type of sun damage. Wearing sunscreen every time skin is exposed to the sun (including when in cars or sitting by windows) and reapplying liberally every 90 minutes is a must. Using an SPF of 30 or higher, and choosing a sunscreen that is broadband to protect against all types of ultraviolet rays, is also necessary. Avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun whenever possible and choose loose protective clothing when outdoors. Remember that even in the winter when skin might not burn, it can still get sun-damaged. Clouds and rain are not fully protective against ultraviolet rays.
However, even those who are dedicated to protecting their skin from sun damage can and do develop actinic keratosis, other types of pre-cancerous lesions, and skin cancer. Those with less melanin are at a higher risk, as are those who live in sunny regions or who have a family history of skin cancer. The only way to ensure skin cancer is caught early and does not progress is with regular skin checks. Seeing a dermatologist at least once per year for a full-body check is essential to healthy, cancer-free skin. Actinic keratosis is just one possible sign of extensive sun damage that should be evaluated immediately.
RefinedMD is your local, leading expert in the evaluation and treatment of actinic keratosis in the region. Combining the best in care with the latest treatments results in happy clients and healthy skin. Schedule your appointment today by calling the office or filling out the online form.