Actinic Keratosis

RECENTLY IN THE NEWS:

NBC News (3/5/2015) reports on its website that "family practioners, gynecologists and even dentists are getting into the cosmetic procedure business, and dermatologists say they're seeing the side effects."  Several dermatologists "from around the country told NBC News that they've had to the fix the mistakes of physicians who are dabbling in their specialty."  In a statement, the American Academy of Dermatology said, "A dermatologist is a licensed medical doctor and the only residency-trained physician fully educated in the science of cutaneous medicine, which includes medical and surgical conditions of the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes."

DRY SKIN CARE:

Keep your bathing to a minimum!  Wash with lukewarm water and keep your bathing to less than 10 minutes.  Wash with a soapless cleanser such as Dove and avoid harsh soaps such as Ivory or Irish Spring.  After bathing, moisturize within a few minutes of patting dry with a towel.  Moisturize with a sensitive-skin moisturizer without fragrance.  If you have a skin condition such as eczema, you will need to moisturize a few times per day.

WOUND CARE:

The day after your procedure, allow the cleanser and water to wash over the site.  That is adequate cleaning of the wound.  Thereafter, apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another greasy substance such as Aquaphor healing ointment.  If the area is in contact with clothing, we advise you to cover it with a dressing.  Repeat the same procedure the next day and every day until the wound has healed.

HOW TO APPLY YOUR TOPICAL RETINOID (ACNE PATIENTS):

Topical retinoids include adapalene (Differin), tretinoin (Retin-A, Atralin, Ziana, Veltin, Tretin-X).  Apply a pea-sized amount to your entire face a few minutes after washing your face at bedtime (since most retinoids are inactivated by sunlight).  If your face is dry with the retinoid, apply a moisturizer prior to the application of the retinoid.  

CARE FOR SKIN IN THE SUN:

Use a daily moisturizer with a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher on the areas that will be exposed.  If you're going to be directly out in the sun, wear an SPF of 30 or higher and make sure the sunscreen says that it is "broad spectrum."  Remember to reapply after two hours and after swimming or any exercising.  Physical sunscreens which contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide are gentle and will not react with the skin.   Seek shade between the hours of 10 am-4 pm.

Check your skin for any new, changing, non-healing or itching lesions four times a year or every major holiday.  If you notice anything that is new or changing or not healing, please call and get it checked.

Our team of professionals and staff believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions regarding their health and well-being. For your personal use, we have created an extensive patient library covering an array of educational topics, which can be found on the side of each page. Browse through these diagnoses and treatments to learn more about topics of interest to you.

As always, you can contact our office to answer any questions or concerns.

Also known as solar keratosis, actinic keratosis affects more than 10 million Americans. These precancerous growths on the skin are caused by overexposure to the sun over a long period of time. They are characterized by rough dry lesions or patches that appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the face, back of hands, arms, scalp or shoulders. The lesions may be red, pink, gray or skin colored. Lesions often begin as flat, scaly areas and develop into a rough-textured surface. Sometimes it is easier to feel a growth than it is to see it.

Actinic keratosis is more common among fair-skinned people and those who have had years of outdoor or tanning bed exposure to ultraviolet light. Actinic keratosis can develop into malignant cells, typically squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer. That's why treatment isimportant. After a physical examination and biopsy of the lesion, your dermatologist will opt for one of the following treatments to remove the growth:

  • Cryosurgery, which freezes off the growth using liquid nitrogen.
  • Surgical removal in which the doctor scrapes off the lesion and bleeding is stopped by electrocautery.
  • Chemical peels that cause the top layer of skin to peel off.
  • Photodynamic therapy in which a dye is applied that sensitizes the skin to light and the area is then exposed to light via a laser or other light source.
  • Topical Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) that cause a slow inflammation and peeling; used in more superficial cases.
  • Topical Chemotherapeutic agents (5 Fluorouracil, Aldara) can also be used.