An early diagnosis of actinic keratoses prevents the development of squamous cell carcinoma. People tend to overlook skin lesions, hoping they will disappear independently. But some of these patches can signify that you need a medical exam. The LUX Dermatology specialists offer personalized actinic keratosis Santa Barbara treatments that protect you from the risk of skin cancer.
Actinic keratosis 101
Actinic keratosis is a precancerous skin disease that causes a rough, scaly patch due to years of sun exposure. Tanning beds that utilize UV rays also increase your risk of developing these lesions. It often grows on the back, neck, scalp, ears, lips, or scalp. This skin disorder usually develops slowly and is common among people over 40 years. Keeping in mind that it is precancerous, if left untreated, it can turn into a type of cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. People with red or blonde hair, green or blue eyes, and fair complexion have an elevated risk of developing these keratoses. A history of severe or multiple burns can also be a risk factor.
Symptoms that indicate you have actinic keratosis
Actinic keratosis develops slowly and often manifests in areas directly exposed to the sun. These lesions may appear flat on the neck or head but as a bump on the hands. Actinic keratosis has a red, pink, tan, light, or dark base, or it may take the color of your skin. The crust or scale may be rough, dry, or horny and itch or have a prickly feeling.
Treatment options for actinic keratosis
Your treatment relies on your number of actinic keratoses and their appearance. During your appointment at LUX Dermatology, your dermatologist meticulously examines your skin using magnification. The specialist may also order a skin biopsy, which involves examining your skin cells under a microscope to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Afterward, the team may educate you about the available treatment options and recommend the safest and most effective. Your doctor may recommend cryotherapy if you have two or fewer AKs. Your provider utilizes a cold substance like liquid nitrogen to inactivate skin growths. The growths then blister and peel off after a few days.
Your treatment plan may include photodynamic therapy, effective on multiple actinic keratoses. This approach utilizes unique light therapy and creams to eliminate skin growths. You may need to avoid direct sun exposure to allow your skin to heal correctly. Curettage and desiccation is a practical approach involving shaving, cutting, or scraping the lesions to eliminate the cells.
How you can protect yourself from actinic keratoses
Avoiding direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the primary step to protecting yourself from AKs. You may also need to adopt the habit of applying sunscreen before going out. Apply lip balm with sunscreen on your lips and sunscreen on all the exposed body parts. You should also keep off tanning beds, which can cause the same damage as the sun.
Call the LUX Dermatology office for information about actinic keratoses, or book your spot online today.