Actinic Keratosis

Facts and Treatment for Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is the term for the rough and scaling pre-cancer lesions that appear on the body, as a result of chronic sun damage. These lesions are not always cancerous; however, they can become cancerous over time. The appearance of actinic keratosis is a significant warning sign of future skin cancer.

Who suffers from actinic keratosis?

Fair-skinned people who are exposed to the sun for long periods of time are more prone toward these pre-cancer lesions than other people. Aside from fair-skinned people, there are parts of the body that are more prone to these lesions as well. These include:

  • Face
  • Ears
  • Scalp
  • Shoulders
  • Upper arms

These areas are more likely to suffer sun damage, thus are more likely to develop pre-cancer lesions.

Actinic keratosis tends to appear when a person reaches their forties. At that point, a small number of these lesions, known as squamous cell carcinomas, can in fact become cancerous. Regular monitoring by a dermatologist is necessary in order to quickly detect and remove skin cancer.

Treatment for Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis can be treated several ways:

  • Topical creams such as Aldara can be prescribed to gradually remove the pre-cancer lesions with repeated applications
  • Liquid nitrogen can freeze them off
  • PhotoDynamic Therapy can treat the lesions with light – this is when a photosensitizing agent is applied to the damaged skin. This agent is activated with a wavelength of light that removes the keratoses

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