Actinic Keratosis

Recognizing the Early Signs of Cancer

We do not like to think about the possibility of cancer, but early detection of skin cancer can lead to successful treatment.

Actinic Keratosis, or AK, is a condition that typically comes from sun damage. Affected skin may appear as a crusty, scaly bump, red, pink, tan, or flesh-toned. AK lesions may also look flat or raised, rough in texture or solid, and may range in size from as small as one millimeter to as much as two centimeters.

To recognize Actinic Keratosis, touch may be the best sense to use. Lesions that feel rough, and itch periodically, or develop tenderness or a prickly sensation are a sign of AK. These spots develop most frequently on areas that get the most sun exposure, such as the:
  • Scalp
  • Ears
  • Face
  • Lips
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Forearms
  • Back of hands

Are you at risk?

Actinic keratosis is primarily associated with sun exposure. To that end, we all have some degree of risk of developing these lesions. However, certain factors increase susceptibility, such as complexion; light-eyed, fair-skinned people are more likely to experience this condition. Medical disorders that make a person more sensitive to the sun also increase risk, as does age. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 60 percent of predisposed individuals, age forty and over, will develop one or more AK lesions.

Protecting the skin from actinic keratosis is important, and possible with annual skin examinations. The team at Center for Dermatology and Cosmetic Laser Surgery can help you in the early detection of concerning lesions that could lead to skin cancer.

Treating Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a treatable skin condition, with our dermatology practice equipped to provide personalized care of concerning lesions. Some treatment options may cause redness of skin or scarring, so great care is taken to design a treatment plan based on your particular skin type. At the Center for Dermatology, AK treatments include:
  • Topical medications
  • Cryosurgery, freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen
  • Chemical peels

Prevention is the best medicine

It is possible to avoid actinic keratosis and the subsequent treatment that follows, with sun protection that includes:
  • Daily use of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on areas exposed to the sun
  • Sunscreen should be used year-round, even when the sun is not shining
  • Avoid direct sun exposure during the peak hours of 10am to 3pm
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunbathing.
  • When in the sun, protect the skin by wearing sunglasses, a hat, and clothing with a tighter weave
  • Obtain annual skin examinations with your dermatologist
You can depend on our expertise and compassionate care for all of your skin care needs. Contact us to schedule your annual skin examination today.