What is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic keratosis (AK) is a scaly, rough, crusty lesion that forms on the skin in areas that are exposed to the sun. Older men and women are at high risk to develop AK. It most often appears on the lips, face, scalp, ears, shoulders, and other areas frequently exposed. Normally, the areas of skin affected will have more than one lesion. Because of this factor, the plural of this condition is known as actinic keratoses. They are often itchy, uncomfortable, and become inflamed.
During a thorough skin assessment at Advanced Dermatology in Katy, League City, Pearland, or Sugar Land, TX, we will analyze the lesion to see if it is precancerous. Removal of the lesion(s) will most likely be recommended and discussed during your examination.
What is Keratosis Pilaris?
Usually called "chicken skin," keratosis pilaris is a benign skin condition that presents as rough patches, tiny bumps, and dry skin on the upper arms, cheeks, thighs, or buttocks. Generally, these bumps don’t itch or hurt since they are simply a result of excess keratin on the skin. Keratin is a hard protein that acts as a protection of the skin from infections. This keratin will clog and block the hair follicles, which then results in small bumps.
What is Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic keratosis (SK) lesions can also appear as raised bumps that are white, tan, brown, and black. The difference between AK and SK is that SK lesions are not cancerous.
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What Causes Actinic Keratosis?
Lengthy sun exposure is the root cause of actinic keratosis, and it is more prevalent in older men and women from years of sun damage. While only a small percentage of AKs turn into skin cancer, it's important to understand what this skin condition looks like and how to treat it. Typically, this skin condition shows up as lesions that are red and scaly, as well as bumps and dark crusty areas that show up in numerous clusters. The biggest sign of AK is that the lesions do not heal.
What are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis?
When AK first appears, it may only feel like rough texture on the skin. Sometimes this area will itch and feel irritated. Over time, especially if it is exposed to more sun, the patchy area will turn red, scaly, bumpy, and inflamed and continue to grow. The more they spread, the greater the chances of developing skin cancer. Any warning sign should be checked as soon as possible by a professional so treatment can be provided and future prevention strategies discussed.
How Is Actinic Keratosis Treated?
Your recommended AK treatment option will vary on numerous factors, such as your age, health, skin color, the severity of the condition, growth characteristics of the lesion(s), location, etc. Advanced Dermatology offers:
- Chemical peels
Medical-grade chemical peels administered by our practitioners can reduce the top layer of the AK skin to stimulate new growth and revitalize the damaged tissue.
The freezing method of cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to destroy lesions.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage
We can remove AK skin lesions with electrodesiccation and curettage by scraping the skin down to a healthy layer.
We can prescribe medications to reduce the appearance and volume of lesions and incidences of scarring.
Actinic Keratosis FAQs
How can I prevent actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratosis cannot always be prevented, but there are some tips to lessen your chances of developing this condition. Limit sun exposure and wear protective gear such as UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Seek shade when you can, and stay away from tanning beds or other artificial sources of ultraviolet light.
Can actinic keratosis go away by itself?
Patients should never assume that AK lesions will go away on their own. Although the lesions may not appear to be growing, they can still develop into skin cancer if left untreated. The best way to ensure that actinic keratosis does not become a serious health risk is to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Does treatment for actinic keratosis hurt?
Our professionals at Advanced Dermatology understand that treatments for AK can be uncomfortable, so we make sure to provide a safe and seamless experience whenever possible. Depending on your treatment option, you may feel some slight discomfort or stinging during the procedure. However, this should not last more than a few moments.
Life Beyond Actinic Keratosis
If you have lesions that you believe may be related to sun overexposure and could be AK, we recommend calling Advanced Dermatology in Katy, League City, Pearland, and Sugar Land, TX to schedule your consultation. Almost all AKs can be eliminated if caught and treated early. We will provide a thorough analysis of your skin and supply the best possible recommendation for a healthy, long-term outcome.