Looking for a Solution to Your Actinic Keratoses (Precancerous Lesions)?
Aside from sunburn, there is little immediate indication that skin has been damaged by the sun. Over time, however, damaged areas of the skin can form precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses. These lesions typically appear scaly and red. They are called precancerous because if they are left untreated, actinic keratoses can lead to skin cancer.
We recommend that you check your skin regularly as a way to catch any potential issue before it becomes a larger problem. Make note of any changes in the color, thickness, appearance or feel of your skin. Be sure to contact a dermatologist for evaluation of any lesions that you’re concerned about.
If you have spotted what you believe to be an actinic keratosis on your skin, know that there are solutions to be pursued. Below, you will find several treatment options provided by Dr. Zimmet.
What Causes Actinic Keratoses?
Prolonged sun exposure causes actinic keratoses to form. There are other factors that increase a person’s chances of getting these lesions:
- Having fair skin, light-colored eyes and/or blond or red hair
- Working outdoors or otherwise spending a lot of time in the sun each day
- Taking medicines that weaken the immune system
- Having had a kidney or other transplants
- Being older
Treatment Options for Actinic Keratoses
When you come to Zimmet Vein & Dermatology, we have a few ways of treating actinic keratoses.
- CRYOTHERAPY: For isolated lesions, we typically use this method, which involves spraying liquid nitrogen on the affected area.
- TOPICAL CREAM: When there is a more extensive series of lesions, we often make use of a topical cream, such as 5-flourouracil or imiquimod. This approach requires from a few weeks to a few months of treatment.
- BLU LIGHT PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY (PDT): This involves applying a topical medication (Aminolevulinic Acid, or ALA) in conjunction with the FDA-approved Blu-U light. We typically perform these treatments about a month apart.
Tips to Prevent Sun Damage
Take steps to prevent actinic keratoses from forming on your skin.
- Apply high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen to all exposed skin year round, including winter.
- Take stock of when you are exposed to sunlight (driving in the car, going on walks, sitting by a window at work, etc.) and wear protective clothing.
- Minimize being outside between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s light is most intense.
- Tanning beds are just as bad or worse than laying out at the beach. Avoid frequenting them.
- If you live or are vacationing at a higher altitude, be aware the sun’s rays are more powerful, making your skin more vulnerable to damage.
Call us now at (512) 485-7700 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Zimmet.