Actinic Keratosis, or solar keratosis, is a type of lesion that grows on parts of the body that get high sun exposure, such as the back of the hands, ears, face, forearms, neck, shoulders or uncovered scalp. The sun damage that causes actinic keratosis may develop into skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.
Signs of Actinic Keratosis You Should Be Aware Of
In its initial stage, actinic keratosis is usually first noticed by touch as opposed to sight. This pre-cancerous lesion is characterized by its sandpaper feel, and before the condition progresses, there may be multiple lesions under the skin's surface. Once it becomes visible to the eye, actinic keratosis appears as crusty, flat or scaly bumps.
Symptoms and Other Signs of Actinic Keratosis
As it slowly develops, actinic keratosis can grow anywhere from one-eighth inch to one-quarter inch in size, and the lesion may become invisible, appearing again at a later date. It is often red in color but can be pink, tan, flesh tone or a combination of the aforementioned colors. This condition is not limited to physical signs. Some people experience a tender, pricking or itchy feeling at the site while bleeding, inflammation and redness may occur around the lesion.
Risk Rates Associated With Actinic Keratosis
Although actinic keratosis is not cancerous, it is the primary stage of skin cancer development. Those who have fair skin are more likely to get this disease, and once a person contracts actinic keratosis, he has a greater risk of developing more lesions over time. Actinic keratosis carries a 10 percent chance of leading to squamous cell cancer, with risk rates increasing in certain lesions and people.
Actinic Keratosis Treatment in New York City
The best way to prevent the onset of actinic keratosis is through doing regular self-exams and applying effective sun protection. If a person has the signs or symptoms of this condition, he should see a certified doctor to have a clinical skin examination.
Possible cases of actinic keratosis call for treatments such as cryogenic freezing or the use of topical chemotherapeutic agents, like Aldara or Efudex. Actinic keratoses that reappear multiple times after freezing call for a biopsy to determine whether or not they have progressed to squamous cell cancer.
If you have concerns about a possible skin lesion, contact Robert M. Schwarcz, MD, FACS today to schedule an appointment.