Actinic keratosis (also called solar keratosis, senile keratosis, or AK) is a premalignant conditionof thick, scaly, or crusty patches of skin. It is most common in fair-skinned people who are frequently exposed to the sun because their pigmentisn't very protective. It usually is accompanied by solardamage. Since some of these pre-cancers progress to squamous cell carcinoma, they should be treated.
When skin is exposed to the sun constantly, thick, scaly, or crusty bumps appear. The scaly or crusty part of the bump is dry and rough. The growths start out as flat scaly areas, and then they later grow into a tough wart-like area.
An actinickeratosissite commonly ranges in between 2 to 6 millimeters, and can be dark or light, tan, pink, red, a combination of all these, or the same pigment of ones skin. It may appear on any sun-exposed area such as, the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, back of hands, forearms, lips etc.
- 1 Prevention
- 2 Diagnosis
- 3 Treatment
- 4 External links
Preventative measures recommended for AK are similar to those for skin cancer:
- Not staying in the sun for long periods of time without sunscreen.
- Frequently applying powerful sunscreens with SPFratings greater than 15 and that also block both UVAand UVBlight.
- Using sunscreen even in winter sun exposure.
- Wearing clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, or pants.
- Avoiding sun exposure during noon hours is very helpful because ultravioletlight is the most powerful at that time.
Doctors can usually identify an "AK" by doing a thourough examination. A biopsymay be necessary when the keratosis is large and/or thick, to make sure that the bump is a keratosis and not a skin cancer. Seborrheic keratosesare other bumps that appear in groups like the actinic keratosis but are not caused by sun exposure, and are not related to skin cancers. Hence, seborrheic keratoses may be mistaken for an actinic keratosis.
Various modalities are employed in the treatment of actinic keratosis:
- Cryosurgery, e.g. with liquid nitrogen, by "freezing off" the AKs.
- 5-fluorouracil(a chemotherapyagent): a cream that contains this medication cause AKs to become red and inflamedbefore they fall off.
- Photodynamic therapy: this new therapy involves injecting a chemical into the bloodstream, which makes AKs more sensitive to any form of light.
- Electrocautery: burning off AKs.
- Immunotherapy: topical treatment with imiquimod(Aldara?), an immune enhancing agent
- Different forms of surgery.
Regular follow-up after treatment is advised by many doctors. The regular checks are to make sure new bumps have not developed and that old ones haven't become thicker and/or have skin disease.
- American Academy of Dermatology
- American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
- National Library of Medicine and the National Institue of Health
- Medicinenet's article on Actinic Keratosis
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actinic+keratosis Wikipedia article Actinic keratosis.