Actinic Keratosis (Precancerous Skin Lesions)
Actinic keratosis forms when the skin is badly damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or indoor tanning. Most people get more than one actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis is very common and is most commonly found on the face, ears, or hands and is one of the most frequent reasons for seeing a dermatologist. These precancerous skin lesions appear as dry, scaly, red spots and can be easily treated with cryotherapy, chemical peels, or 5-Fluorouracil cream.
Anyone who has many actinic keratoses should be under a dermatologist's care. Although actinic keratosis is precancerous, only a small percentage of actinic keratosis turns into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. By seeing a dermatologist for checkups, actinic keratosis can be treated before it becomes skin cancer. If skin cancer does develop, it can be caught early and treatment often cures the patient.
Treatment Options (not limited to):
Cryotherapy destroys visible actinic keratoses by freezing them. The treated skin often blisters and peels off within a few days to a few weeks. This is the most common treatment. When the skin heals, you may see a small white mark.
This is a medical chemical peel. You cannot get this peel at a salon or from a kit sold for at-home use. This strong chemical peel destroys the top layers of skin. The treated area will be inflamed and sore, but healthy new skin will replace it.
This is a topical chemotherapy that you apply to the skin. It causes temporary redness and crusting. Patients typically apply 5-FU twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks. A person who has lots of damaged skin may need to use 5-FU longer. 5-FU causes sun-damaged areas to become raw and irritated. As the skin heals, healthy skin appears.
+Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
A solution is applied to make the skin more sensitive to light. After a few hours, the treated skin is exposed to a visible light, such as blue or laser light. The light activates the solution and destroys actinic kertosis. As the skin heals, new healthy skin appears.