Actinic keratosis (AK) is a common pre-cancerous condition found on sun-damaged skin, particularly on the face, scalp, arms, and legs. In the United States, the prevalence of actinic keratosis is approximately 58 million persons, with the condition commonly affecting men, persons with fair skin, persons with a history of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, and older persons. Left untreated, actinic keratosis may progress to invasive cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma; the reported risk of progression ranges from 0.025 to 16% per lesion per year. Approximately 65% of all primary squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers develop from lesions previously diagnosed as AK. Given the unpredictable nature of progression, treatment of all actinic keratoses has been recommended.
Chronic sun exposure.
Lesions are frozen with liquid nitrogen and generally take a week to heal. This treatment is ideal for a small number of visible, single lesions.
- Topical medications
There are a variety of topical medications on the market used in the treatment of actinic keratosis. Used in the treatment of e invisible damage, the commitment of these topical medications range from applying the drug twice a day for periods of 6-9 weeks to one application for 3 days. All come with the possibility of inflammation, redness, and slight discomfort, but are optimally effective in treating the invisible damage which is set to surface over time.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
A light-based treatment used at our office in which a medication is applied to a particular area of skin that causes damaged cells to react to blue light. It is approved by the FDA and often covered by insurance when used to treat the face and scalp. This treatment generally lasts under 2 hours and can be done in a series of 3 to reach maximum treatment for larger areas such as the full face, scalp, neck, or arms. Patients who have received the PDT treatment are advised to avoid sun exposure and bright indoor or outdoor light for 48 hours after their treatment and a majority of inflammation subsides within a week post-treatment. Treatment results in the clearance of many AK’s from large areas of the skin such as the entire face, entire scalp, arms, hands, or legs. Click here for more information.