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Actinic Keratosis

What is Actinic Keratoses?

The word “actinic” means “from the sun,” while “keratosis” applies to scaly lesions. Therefore, Actinic Keratosis are scaly, red, elevated spots that generally occur body in areas that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms and hands. Although Actinic Keratosis are not malignant, if left untreated, they can develop into skin cancer. Actinic Keratosis are caused by sun exposure in those who tend to be more sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. The lesions occur in those patients who get too much sun over their lifetime, or who are very sensitive to the little sun they get, such as redheads or individuals with light to fair skin.

What causes Actinic Keratosis?

Sun damage to the skin is permanent. Once sun damage has progressed to the point where Actinic Keratosis lesions develop, it is possible for new keratoses to develop — event without sun exposure. However, patients with Actinic Keratosis should avoid further sun damage by using sunscreen with an SPF number greater than 30. This should be applied to all sun exposed areas such as the face, arms and hands on a regular basis. You need not avoid the sun, but use a sunscreen and keep yourself covered by sun protective clothing when outdoors.

Treatment for Actinic Keratosis

Early treatment of Actinic Keratosis can eliminate almost all lesions before they become skin cancers. If a lesion is suspected to be an early cancer, a small tissue sample (retrieved by shaving, or scraping, off a portion of the lesion with a scalpel) may be sent in for biopsy, using local anesthesia. Depending on the nature of the growth and the patient’s age and health, various treatment options are available for actinic keratosis, including freezing/laser surgical techniques, topical creams or even photodynamic therapy .

If you would like more information regarding Actinici Keratosis and the treatment available after diagnosis, schedule a consultation with one our experienced dermatologist, Dr. Peter Karlsberg.

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