What is Actinic Keratoses ?
Actinic Keratoses (AKs) are dry, rough, or scaly patches on the skin. They tend to occur in areas of the body that have received long-term sun exposure such as: face, neck, scalp, ears, lips, arms, and backs of hands. AKs can sometimes progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a type of skin cancer that can be life threatening. If the lesion is especially large or thick, a biopsy may be performed to determine if SCC is present.The American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation, and the American Academy of Dermatology all recommend that people with AKs seek treatment for them.
What causes actinic keratoses?
Long–term exposure to the sun is the single most significant cause of AKs, so the best defense against them is a comprehensive sun protection program that includes wearing protective clothing, avoiding mid day sun, staying in the shade as much as possible, and wearing a broad–spectrum sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF).
What treatment options are available?
Several treatment options are available and may be used alone or in combination. Factors used to choose the most appropriate treatment method include size, number, location, and stage of lesions as well as the persons age, heath, medical history, and history of previous treatment. Other factors to consider include the the patient’s occupation, cosmetic expectations and treatment preferences as well as adherence(willingness to self treat for several weeks).These options include:
- Cryosurgery (freezing)
- Topical (cream) medication
- Curettage (scraping) with or without electrosurgery (heat generated by electrical current)
- Chemical peels
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Surgical excision