Actinic keratosis is a skin lesion caused by frequent and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays. It is a rough scaly patch which predominantly occurs on the face, ears, back of the hands, scalp and neck. This is actually a precancerosis which if left untreated may become cancer.
This skin change is typical for elderly people. It takes years for actinic keratosis to develop and it is rather painless and causes no problems. Still it requires urgent treatment and if left untreated it will eventually turn into skin cancer.
This precancerosis most commonly affects people who are working in fields and people who are over exposed to sun because they want to have perfect ten.
Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis
The skin lesion is rough and dry. It may also be scaly and it usually does not exceed 1 inch in diameter. The skin lesion may be flat or slightly above the level of the skin. It may also be in a form of a hard bump and resemble a wart. The color of actinic keratosis varies from pink to brown. It can be also flesh-colored. There may not be additional symptoms or the patient complains about itchiness and burning sensations of the affected area.
The skin lesions predominantly affect exposed parts of the body. They include the face,ears, scalp and the neck, hands and forearms. One may suffer from one or several skin lesions.
Everyone who has noticed such skin lesion is due to report it to the doctor. After the examination of the skin lesion the doctor can set the diagnosis. He/ she will also be able to distinguish this precancerosis from skin cancers. The doctor will additionally ask a set of questions to be sure of the diagnosis. Information about whether the skin lesion is painful or not, whether it itches/burns, bleeds or becomes scaly can be very helpful. The patients are due to report any change related to the size, shape, elevation and color of the skin lesion.
The history of chronic and excessive exposure to sun and other sources of ultraviolet rays will additionally help in setting of the diagnosis.
Treatment for Actinic Keratosis
The removal of actinic keratosis is excellent prevention against skin cancer. All of these lesions need to be removed.
There are several treatment modalities and the doctor will chose the most appropriate one for each patient.
Actinic keratosis can be eliminated by freezing or by certain creams or ointments. Additionally, it can be removed by chemical peeling or curettage. And finally it can be removed by photodynamic therapy, laser therapy, or dermoabrasion.