ACTINIC KERATOSIS & TREATMENT
Definition: What is "Actinic Keratosis"?
Actinic keratosis also known as solar keratosis, even AK is a premalignant condition of the skin where the signs include crusty, scaly, thick patches. This disorder is common among fair-skinned individuals who are often exposed under the sun (white people have less protection from their skin's pigment). This condition is often accompanied by damage made by the sun. Since a few of these are pre-cancer carcinomas, they should be attended to immediately. When a person's skin is exposed under the sun, the signs such as crustiness & thickness begin to appear. These bumps are often rough & dry & they start out as flat areas but soon develop into something tough which often resembles a wart. Actinic keratosis is about 2.0-6.0 mm. in range & they can be light or dark, pink or tan, it can even be red in color or it can be a combination of all the mentioned colors. It could appear on the areas that are exposed under the sun such as the chest, back, ears, neck, face, scalp, forearms, hands & lips.
Treatment: How to Treat "Actinic Keratosis"?
There are several methods of treating actinic keratosis. Some of these are: crysurgery is done by freezing off the actinic keratoses with liquid nitrogen; application of 5-fluororacil cream (this is a chemotherapy agent) where the AK's become red & swollen before they fall off; photodynamic therapy is a new therapy which involves an injection of chemical into the patient's bloodstream wherein the AK's become more sensitive to light forms; laser & erbium eraser; electrocautery involves the use of electricity to burn off AK's; immunotherapy enhances immunity; & various forms of surgical procedures.
Physicians can often identify AK through a thorough examination. A skin biopsy is necessary when the keratosis is thick or large. This is to make sure that the bump is just a keratosis & not skin cancer. Sebborrheic keratosis is a bump which appears in groups (such as actinic keratosis) & are often mistaken as actinic keratoses.
This condition can be prevented by the following methods: not staying too long under the sun; if activities call for solar exposure, the individual should make certain to use sunscreens or protective hats & clothings; & application of sunscreen lotions with an SPF of 15 or higher (these block the UVA & UVB lights). Light-skinned people should also avoid exposure to the sun especially in the afternoon when the ultraviolet rays are most powerful.