Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a type of skin lesion that often affects the elderly and fair-skinned individuals who have had a lot of sun exposure and typically appears on parts of the body that have had the most sun exposure, such as the arms, face, and hands. AKs are dry, scaly patches on the skin that should be examined by an expert dermatologist as soon as possible because it can become squamous cell carcinoma if not treated.
Fortunately, actinic keratosis can be effectively treated before becoming skin cancer with photodynamic therapy (PDT), cryosurgery, topical medication, or a combination of treatments. For more information on actinic keratosis and which treatment option is the best for your specific concerns, please contact Dr. Ava Shamban and her team of highly-qualified cosmetic dermatologists at Ava MD today! You can schedule a consultation online or by calling (310) 439-5417 (Beverly Hills) or (310) 736-6146 (Santa Monica).
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What is Actinic Keratosis?
Also known as solar keratoses, AK is a scaly, flaky growth on the skin caused primarily by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or even sunless tanning beds. AK is considered precancerous skin lesions that may become a type of skin cancer if left untreated. While individual lesions can be eliminated, it is common for patients to continue to develop the precancerous lesions throughout their life, so regular treatment may be necessary.
Before AK forms, the skin may begin to feel scaly and dry, not unlike sandpaper. When AK does develop, it looks like rough, red or brown patches of skin and can become thick, scaly, and discolored over time. Some AK grow so quickly that they develop into a horn-shape that is more likely to become cancerous.
Treatment Options for Actinic Keratosis
In order to accurately treat AK, it is important to be examined by an experienced dermatologist, like the team at Ava MD. During an exam, Dr. Shamban, Dr. Simzar, or Dr. Van Dyke will take a skin biopsy to test for skin cancer. Actinic keratosis can be treated with one of a combination of the following options:
Photodynamic Therapy – A photo-sensitizing medication, typically Levulan Kerastick (aminolaevulinic acid) is applied to the lesion and then exposed to a specific wavelength of blue light in order to activate the photo-sensitive agent, destroying the sun damaged tissue and precancerous cells in addition to minimizing the sebaceous glands. The treatment is quick and non-invasive, resulting in minor side effects, such as redness or swelling, and achieving incredible results!
Cryosurgery – Liquid nitrogen is applied in small amounts to the lesion in order to freeze the sun-damaged tissue, causing the skin to shrink, blister, or fall off. The procedure is efficient and causes minimal side effects, such as redness, swelling, or even pigmentation loss.
Topical Medications – FDA-approved topical creams, such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), can be used to treat AK as well as cancerous skin lesions by applying it directly to the damaged area once or twice a day for several weeks. While the effect is gradual, patients can expect temporary side effects and no scarring.
Get Quality Treatment for Actinic Keratosis at Ava MD
If you’ve developed actinic keratosis or other unsightly skin condition, do not wait to get a comprehensive consultation by the compassionate, skilled team at Ava MD. Let us help you achieve the clear, beautiful skin you want and help protect your overall health. So, why wait? Contact Ava MD today!
Next, read about Eczema.