Facts On Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis is a condition in which scaly patches are formed on the skin due to UV rays of the sun. The part of the body that is often exposed to the sun (face, ears, hands and forearms) develop scaly patches. For some people it is seen on the neck and scalp region also. Since it develops due to solar rays actinic keratosis is also known as solar keratosis. Actinic keratosis will not produce any symptoms except a tiny red patch on the skin. The disease progresses very slowly and it might take years for the first symptom to appear. People developing actinic keratosis are likely to develop skin cancer in future.
Actinic Keratosis Symptoms
When the skin is repeatedly exposed to the sun actinic keratosis appears as tiny scaly patches on the skin. The size of the patch would be very less (1 inch or even less) in diameter. The lesions would be flat in surface or sometimes it may be raised slightly giving the appearance of a bump. The color of the patch may vary from pink to red and sometimes even brown. It would cause itching or burning sensation on the skin. These spots are mostly felt rather seen with naked eyes. The lesions may develop on the face, neck, forearms and back portion of the hands that are more exposed to the sun. In men who are bald it may appear on the scalp.
The only cause for developing actinic keratosis is repeated exposure to sun’s UV rays. People may develop these scaly patches due to continuous use of tanning beds.
Who Are At Risk?
Actinic keratosis can occur to anyone irrespective of age and health. But people who are more than 40 years, people who are fair complexioned, people who often have sun exposure, people living in sunny climate, people with blond hair or pale skin and people with weakened immunity are more prone to develop actinic keratosis. A person with family history of this disease is likely to develop keratosis. Actually actinic keratosis does not create any problem except having irritating sensation on the skin. But there is every chance for you to develop skin cancer if you are diagnosed with actinic keratosis.
Your doctor can easily detect actinic keratosis by simple physical exam. If required he would do a skin biopsy by taking small tissue sample and checking it in the lab.
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Actinic Keratosis :
The best treatment for actinic keratosis is to remain unexposed to the sunlight. The symptoms may disappear gradually if you stay away from sun exposure. Your doctor would prescribe topical creams that contain fluorouracil or imquimod or ingenol mebutate for treating actinic keratosis. Some of the popular creams given are carac, aldara, zyclara and picato gel. For some people your doctor may opt for photodynamic therapy for destroying the skin cells that are damaged. But it may cause side effects.
For most of the cases, doctors use cryotherapy and curettage for removing the lesions. During cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is administered directly on the lesions. This is effective in freezing the skin surface which would cause blisters. This would eventually peel off from the skin destroying the lesions. New layer of the skin would appear on the spot after few days. In curettage, the doctor or dermatologist would use special electric device for scraping off the lesions. You will be given numbing injection while performing this procedure. But some people may develop change in skin color on the site.
Actinic keratosis can be prevented from limiting the exposure to sun. Avoid going out in hot sun which may cause skin damage. You can use high SPF creams while going out in sun. Cover your skin with tight clothing and keep your arms and legs fully covered. Avoid using commercial tanning beds since it can emit ultraviolet A which is harmful to your skin. If you see any change in skin color, you can check it with your doctor early.