Actinic keratoses are rough, scaly patches of skin that result from ultraviolet light exposure. If not treated, they can develop into skin cancer, so you should have us examine these lesions and, most likely, remove them.
PRECANCEROUS PATCHES OF SKIN Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, may be flat or slightly raised patches or bumps with a dry, scaly or wart-like surface. The color varies from flesh to pink, red, or brown. They appear wherever sun exposure is common: the face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, shoulders, forearms, or backs of your hands. The skin around them may be itchy, raw, and sensitive, or even red and inflamed. On the lips, actinic keratoses are often characterized by chapping, cracks, and a whitish discoloration. For every actinic keratosis you can see, you could have as many as 10 more that are not yet visible.
The more you have been exposed to ultraviolet light through the sun, sun lamps, or tanning beds the more likely you are to develop actinic keratoses. The damage is cumulative.
On occasion, an actinic keratosis will disappear on its own, but it will return when the skin is exposed to the sun again. If you scratch a lesion off, it will grow back.
If treated early enough, an actinic keratosis can be removed before it becomes cancerous. Otherwise, it may develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a serious skin cancer that can grow into surrounding tissues and even spread to other parts of your body. Left untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can be deadly.
You should see us for treatment immediately if you have a suspicious lesion that:
Any of these could be a sign of skin cancer. If necessary, we will take a small sample of your skin and analyze it in our in-house lab. If the sample tests positive, we can treat you for skin cancer.
If skin cancer is not a concern with your actinic keratoses, we can remove them in one of several ways:
Each procedure has its own advantages, risks, and potential side effects. We will discuss them with you in depth to determine the best approach. Following treatment you should examine your skin thoroughly at least once a month and schedule regular follow-up visits for a professional examination.
Your best option is to prevent getting actinic keratoses in the first place. After having your lesions treated, however, you should be especially vigilant about responsible protection and early detection.
Annual cancer screening Have us perform a professional, full-body skin cancer screening at least once a year. We will discover and discuss any new actinic keratoses at this time. Make your appointment now.
Monthly self-exams Examine your skin at least once a month. If you see a new growth or one that is changing rapidly, itching, or bleeding, call us immediately.
Sun safety Protect your skin from the sun: