After I started working full time, I realized that the stress wasn't doing nice things to my skin. Instead of my typical glowing appearance, I was left with splotchy, uncomfortable, pimple-ridden skin. I didn't like how it looked or felt, which is why I decided to see about visiting a dermatologist. It was amazing to see how well he cared for me after I went. He felt my skin, gave me some advice on daily cleaning, and talked with me about which medications might help. I was absolutely blown away with how much of an improvement he helped me to achieve. This blog is all about the wonders of modern day dermatology.
Actinic keratosis, also caused solar elastosis, is a pre-cancerous skin condition that results from excessive sun exposure. Here are four things you need to know about it.
What are the signs of actinic keratosis?
If you have actinic keratosis, you'll notice that you have scaly, red lesions on your skin. These lesions are likely to be located on your face, scalp, neck, or other parts of your body that get a lot of sun exposure, like your hands.
Is it serious?
Actinic keratosis is a serious condition due to the risk of the lesions becoming cancerous. The risk of this progression is not known with certainty, as studies have reported variable numbers. Some studies have found that only 1% of lesions become cancerous over a 10 year period, while another study found that 10% did. While researchers can't agree how often actinic keratosis turns into cancer, they can agree on one thing: most squamous cell carcinomas start out as actinic keratosis.
Can dermatologists treat it?
There are many treatment options available to people with actinic keratosis. One common treatment is cryosurgery. This treatment uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the lesions. After the treatment, your lesions will shrink and fall off.
Creams are also available. One of the main ingredients in these creams is fluorouracil, a drug that is also used to treat skin cancer. You'll need to rub the cream on your lesions one or two times a day for anywhere between two and four weeks; make sure to follow your dermatologist's directions.
Surgery is also possible. During surgery, lasers will be used to cut away the lesions. You'll be given local anesthesia before the procedure, so you'll be awake, but not in any pain. Laser surgery does carry the risk of scarring, so your dermatologist will recommend trying less invasive treatments first.
Is actinic keratosis common?
Multiple studies have been performed in the United States to determine the prevalence rate of actinic keratosis. A 2010 study of people 65 years and older found that 45% of men and 35% of women had the condition. Older studies reported lower numbers, which may suggest that the condition is becoming more common in recent years. Back in 1975, a study found that only 17% of participants had actinic keratosis.
Protecting your skin from the sun is very important, as the sun can lead to precancerous lesions such as actinic keratosis. If you notice scaly, red lesions on your skin, see your dermatologist immediately for evaluation.
To learn more, contact a group like Dermatology Associates.