What is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic Keratoses (AKs), are among the most common concerns of our adult patients.  These growths are marked by their rough, scaly texture, similar to sandpaper.  While AKs are not yet cancerous, they are caused by years of exposure to UV light from the sun or artificial sources, and they frequently do develop into skin cancer if left untreated.  These lesions may appear in a range of colors from red to flesh-colored, may be flat or raised, and often appear in groups.  They can appear anywhere on the body, but they are most common in areas that receive the most sun exposure.  Occassionally, they affect the lips and appear as dryness and cracking around the edges.  These cases are called actinic cheilitis.

AKs and Skin Cancer

The development of AKs into skin cancer is so common that most dermatologists consider them precancerous lesions.  Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer and is what most AKs will turn into if not treated.  In fact, 40-60 percent of all SCCs began as AKs.  Fortunately, these lesions are also easily treatable when detected early.

Risk Factors for AKs

Genetics play a huge role in the development of any form of skin cancer or precancerous lesion.  Those who are at a greater risk of developing AKs and SCC will also be at a heightened risk for other forms of skin cancer such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.  Here are the traits that may impact your risk:

·        Light hair color such as blonde or red

·        Blue, green, or hazel eyes

·        Skin that burns or freckles after sun exposure

·        40 years of age or older

AK Treatment Options

Early detection and treatment are vital to prevent the formation of skin cancer from AKs.  There are many therapies available to address these, and depending on your particular case, your dermatologist may choose to use one or more to ensure complete removal.  These therapies include:

·        Cryotherapy

·        Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

·        Lasers

·        ED&C

·        Shave removal

Learn More about Actinic Keratosis

If you have a suspected case of actinic keratosis, it is crucial that you see your dermatologist at the earliest possibility.  The sooner that these lesions are treated, the lower the likelihood that cancer may develop as a result.  To determine if your case is AK as well as the best treatment options, schedule your consultation and treatment with our Baton Rouge dermatology office or Lafayette dermatology office.