Actinic keratoses is a rough, scaly patch that appears on the surface of the skin. The most common locations for this condition are the face, ears, hands, forearms, neck or scalp.
Actinic keratoses grow very slowly, but they are a source of concern because some turn to into a form of cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. Regular screening and treatment of actinic keratoses can stop skin cancer from forming.
Who can get Actinic Keratoses?
Actinic keratoses is a direct result of longterm sun damage, which is why areas of the body frequently exposed to sunlight tend to see the development of actinic keratoses the most. It can also occur as a result of regular tanning bed use. People that are at higher risk for actinic keratoses usually fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Fair skinned
- Have blue or green eyes and blonde or red hair
- Skin that freckles or burns easily in the sun
- Live in an area that gets intense sunlight year round
Treatment Options for Actinic Keratoses
Although not all actinic keratoses will develop into skin cancer, it is difficult to know which ones will become a problem later on. For this reason, it is a good idea to seek treatment for actinic keratoses once it is identified, to eliminate the risk of an eventual malignancy. There are a number of options for treating actinic keratoses, including:
- Topical medications
- Photodynamic therapy
Topical medications containing fluorouracil, which is a chemotherapy drug in a cream form, are often used. Other options include anti-inflammatory formulas and medications that boost the body’s own immune function.
Cryotherapy involves freezing the lesion, while curettage gently scrapes the patch away from the skin.
Photodynamic therapy uses a solution that makes skin more sensitive to light. The skin is then exposed to visible light in blue spectrum that destroys the lesion, leaving healthy skin to grow in its place.