Understanding Your Treatment Options for Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a very common skin condition, affecting 10%-26% of people in the United States. While any diagnosis can seem daunting, this one could protect you from skin cancer

The rough, scaly bumps or patches on the skin, also known as solar keratosis, stem from ultraviolet (UV) damage. And while these lesions aren’t dangerous on their own, actinic keratoses can turn into squamous cell carcinoma if you ignore them.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, making it an especially good time to learn about conditions that affect the skin. At our offices in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and Rye, New York, Robert Schwarcz, MD, and his team treat or help you avoid cosmetic issues related to actinic keratosis treatment, such as scarring.

You should always take any precancerous symptoms seriously. Here, we describe treatment options for actinic keratosis and how we can help ensure that your skin looks its healthy best.

Actinic keratosis basics

Actinic keratosis can appear most anywhere the sun’s rays reach your skin. Particularly common affected areas include the ears, face, and arms. The precancerous lesions are usually small and flat, with a texture similar to sandpaper.

In addition to spending plentiful time in the sun or tanning beds, risk factors for actinic keratosis include:

Because sun exposure is cumulative, your risk for actinic keratosis increases with your age. It’s pretty unlikely to be diagnosed before your 30s or 40s, but your chances increase significantly the older you get.

Actinic keratosis treatments

While some actinic keratosis lesions diminish on their own, it’s better to be safe than sorry because there’s no way to determine which ones will turn into skin cancer. Actinic keratosis treatment often involves removing the lesion through freezing (cryotherapy) or a topical chemotherapeutic agent such as Aldara or Efudex.

Other common treatments include scraping (curettage) and laser therapy. Freezing, scraping, and laser therapy can cause scarring, and Dr. Schwarcz and his team have years of experience ensuring the best outcomes. All of our skin cancer-related treatments are performed with the best possible aesthetic results in mind. 

Moving forward from your treatment, it’s best to schedule routine skin cancer surveillance. These noninvasive exams check your skin from head to toe, including areas that are difficult to see on your own, for questionable lesions.

With early detection and treatment, the prognosis for most precancerous or cancerous conditions are quite good.

To learn more about actinic keratosis treatments or get started with any skin cancer care that you need, book an appointment online with Dr. Schwarcz today or call the office closest to you.

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