All About Actinic Keratosis

Our next blog posts are going to be centered around different types of skin cancers, beginning with the most common: Actinic Keratosis. Also referred to as AKs, these precancerous growths are caused by damage from the sun’s rays or tanning beds. They are most commonly found on areas that receive the most sun exposure such as the face, scalp, neck, and hands. These spots can resemble an age spot, pimple, or area of irritation, which is why it’s important to perform self-checks every month to stay aware of any changes. While AKs are precancerous, if left untreated they can further develop into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

AKs can affect individuals of any age, with risk factors including fair skin, tanning bed use, weakened immune system, and sun exposure without proper protection. If you notice any new or changing spots, a dermatologist can easily identify and treat any AKs using a variety of methods. The method used depends on a variety of factors such as the number of AKs present, where they are on the body, and how they appear. One method of removal is cryosurgery, in which the provider uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the AK, which then falls off. Another method is known as photodynamic therapy, or blue light therapy, in which a light-sensitive solution is applied to the affected skin for a period of time and then exposed to blue light. The light and the solution interact with each other destroying the AKs. Multiple treatments may be required to fully remove the AKs, but they are easily treatable.

Catching skin cancer early is the key to a successful recovery. Performing self-checks every month can help you stay aware of changes in your skin. If you notice any new or changing spots, give us a call to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists at 804-549-4040.