Actinic keratosis is one of the major skin problems that people often suffer from. It is that stage, in which, if the disease is left in an untreated condition, can lead to cancer. Actinic keratosis is a typical condition of thickly crusted and scaly lumps on skin. It is seen mostly in people who have got fair complexions and who often get exposed to the ultra-violet rays of the sun. Actinic keratosis affects people with fair complexions, as skin pigment in these types of fair skin is not very protective.
This skin problem is normally come with damages done by the harmful rays of the sun. Actinic keratosis can also lead to squamous cell carcinoma, and as such must not be left in an untreated condition.
When the skin remains continuously exposed to the sunrays, thick flaky and grumpy bulges appear on the skin. The flaky area of the lump remains coarse and parched. This type of skin problem develops first as plain flaky parts and then develops to a thick verruca-like area. The area on the skin that gets affected by Actinic keratosis measures usually from 2 to 6 mm and appears pink, or tan or red or something in between these colors. It may affect the areas of the skin that remain exposed to the sun rays including face, neck, ears, chest, scalp, forearms, back of the hands, lips and other parts of the skin that remain uncovered.
Prevention of Actinic keratosis
- The preventive measures that you need to take for Actinic keratosis are like those that are recommended for skin cancer –
- Avoiding long exposure of unprotected skin to the harmful ultra-violet rays
- Frequent application of proper sunscreens containing high levels of SPF like SPF 15 and also those that can block the UVB and UVA rays
- Use of sunscreens in winter also
- Use of clothing that protect the skin from sun like full-sleeved shirts, pants, long skirts and hats
- Debarring the sun rays in the noon hours proves to be quite effective as during these hours of the day the ultraviolet rays of the sun remains most effective.
Diagnosis of Actinic Keratosis
A systematic assessment can normally identify Actinic keratosis and a biopsy may be needed when this skin problem becomes acute for making sure that the bulge is not any sort of a skin cancer and only Actinic keratosis. Seborrheic keratosis is a bump that occurs in groups similar to that in Actinic keratosis, but actually do not appear due to the exposure of the skin to the sun rays and is not associated at all to skin cancer. Seborrheic keratosis is often mistaken for Actinic keratosis.
Treatment for Actinic Keratosis
- Use of lasers, especially erbium lasers
- Application of 5-fluorouracil
- Cryosurgery, such as by using liquid nitrogen that almost freezes off the Actinic keratosis
- Immunotherapy – topical treatment with the use of imiquimod
- Electrocautery – Electrical burning up of the Actinic keratosis
- Surgery of various types
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