It is estimated that more than 58 million Americans endure actinic keratosis. It is the most common precancerous skin condition. It is typically found on the face, neck, hands, or any area of skin that has extensive sun exposure.
Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis
The skin lesions are also called solar keratoses because they are the result of sun damage. The growths are rough or scaly and they typically are reddish, but sometimes brown or flesh colored. The lesions are small, ranging from about the size of a pencil eraser up to an inch.
When it is first developing and not yet visible, actinic keratosis appears as a patch of rough skin. In many cases, the subclinical or invisible growths greatly outnumber the visible lesions. A few different types of actinic keratoses include cutaneous horns where the growth begins to resemble a horn, and actinic cheilitis, found on or around the lower lip.
Who is at risk of Actinic Keratosis?
Anyone who has sun damaged skin is at risk of developing actinic keratosis. People who have pale skin and light colored hair are at a higher risk of developing these skin lesions. The risk for men is slightly elevated because they tend to spend more time outside without adequate sun protection.
Each time the skin is exposed to UV rays; there is the potential for damage. The longer and more frequent the exposure, the greater the long-term damage is. In many cases, the sun damage begins to manifest as actinic keratosis when patients are in their 30s and 40s. The older they get, the more skin lesions they are likely to develop.
Treatment for Actinic Keratosis
There is a variety of treatment options, and your provider at the Rendon Center will determine what is best for you. Some of the options include laser treatment, photodynamic therapy, and at-home pharmaceutical creams. Not all skin lesions will develop into skin cancer, but it is impossible to tell from a visual inspection which ones pose a cancer risk. It is best to have them removed as they develop. Depending on your individual medical history, your doctor may recommend a biopsy of your lesions.
It is never too late to start protecting your skin from the Boca Raton sun. Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, and try to avoid spending time in the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If you suspect time in the sun has damaged your skin, or that you are starting to develop actinic keratosis, call the Rendon Center today at 561-750-0544 and schedule your appointment.