While actinic keratoses are not harmful on their own, they can develop into skin cancer if left unaddressed. When it comes to diagnosing, treating, and preventing the development of actinic keratoses, it’s important that you seek out a reputable dermatologist that you can trust.
Located in both Worcester and Chelmsford, Worcester and Chelmsford Dermatology Associates are dedicated to providing clients with thorough medical care by expert dermatologists with years of experience. For more information about our practices or any of the services we offer, contact us today.
What is It?
Also referred to as solar keratosis, actinic keratosis is a scaly, crusty lesion caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Because these lesions are caused by UV damage, they appear most often on parts of the body frequently exposed to the sun, including the face, scalp, lips, and the back of the hands. While these rough, elevated growths are not cancerous on their own, they can develop into skin cancer if left untreated.
How can I Prevent It?
If you have not yet developed actinic keratoses growths, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your skin from them. Regular self-examination of the skin, as well as yearly evaluations at Worcester and Chelmsford Dermatology Associates can dramatically decrease your chances of developing any sort of skin disorder, actinic keratoses included.
Because actinic keratoses growths are caused by UV damage, protecting yourself from exposure to these harmful rays is of the utmost importance. Always use a daily sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, and make sure to apply a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher when you know you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in the sun. The sun is brightest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try your best to avoid extended direct contact during these hours. Avoiding outdoor tanning and UV tanning beds can also dramatically reduce your chances of developing these lesions.
If you already have actinic keratoses growths, make sure to be extra vigilant about your sun exposure. Once these lesions have appeared, they can spread to other parts of the body, but protecting your skin can still reduce your risk of worsening the condition.
What are my Treatment Options?
There are a number of treatment options that patients with actinic keratoses can explore. Individual growths can be frozen with liquid nitrogen. While this treatment causes blistering and shedding of the skin that can take as long as a month to fully heal, it can effectively remove these lesions.
The application of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is best used to treat large numbers of keratoses. This medication is rubbed on the grows for 3-6 weeks, destroying UV-damaged skin cells over time. The treatment area usually becomes raw and sensitive 3-5 days after beginning treatment and complete healing usually takes about two weeks.
Aldara cream and Solareze gel are two other topical medications that can help stop the development of early onset actinic keratoses growths.
Do you suspect that you may have developed actinic keratoses? The earlier you seek out treatment, the more easily your lesions can be removed. Contact Worcester and Chelmsford Dermatology Associates today to schedule a consultation appointment today.