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Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis Definition

Actinic keratosis also known as solar keratosis, even AK is a premalignant condition of the skin where the signs include crusty, scaly, thick patches. This disorder is common among fair-skinned individuals who are often exposed under the sun (white people have less protection from their skin's pigment). This condition is often accompanied by damage made by the sun. Since a few of these are pre-cancer carcinomas, they should be attended to immediately. When a person's skin is exposed under the sun, the signs such as crustiness and thickness begin to appear. These bumps are often rough and dry and they start out as flat areas but soon develop into something tough which often resembles a wart. Actinic keratosis is about 2.0-6.0 mm. in range and they can be light or dark, pink or tan, it can even be red in color or it can be a combination of all the mentioned colors. It could appear on the areas that are exposed under the sun such as the chest, back, ears, neck, face, scalp, forearms, hands, and lips.

Actinic Keratosis Diagnosis

Physicians can often identify AK through a thorough examination. A skin biopsy is necessary when the keratosis is thick or large. This is to make sure that the bump is just a keratosis and not skin cancer. Sebborrheic keratosis is a bump which appears in groups (such as actinic keratosis) and are often mistaken as actinic keratoses.

Actinic Keratosis Prevalence

This condition can be prevented by the following methods: not staying too long under the sun; if activities call for solar exposure, the individual should make certain to use sunscreens or protective hats and clothings; and application of sunscreen lotions with an SPF of 15 or higher (these block the UVA and UVB lights). Light-skinned people should also avoid exposure to the sun especially in the afternoon when the ultraviolet rays are most powerful.

Actinic Keratosis Treatment

There are several methods of treating actinic keratosis. Some of these are: crysurgery is done by freezing off the actinic keratoses with liquid nitrogen; application of 5-fluororacil cream (this is a chemotherapy agent) where the AK's become red and swollen before they fall off; photodynamic therapy is a new therapy which involves an injection of chemical into the patient's bloodstream wherein the AK's become more sensitive to light forms; laser and erbium eraser; electrocautery involves the use of electricity to burn off AK's; immunotherapy enhances immunity; and various forms of surgical procedures.

Drugs used for treatment of Actinic Keratosis


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