What is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic Keratosis is sometimes referred to as solar keratosis. The rough, scaly patches of skin usually develop as a result of years of exposure from the sun.
The most common areas where actinic keratosis develops are usually the areas of skin that receives the most sun exposure:
- Back of the hands
What are the signs and symptoms?
An actinic keratosis usually develops over a long period of time. They don’t generally cause any signs or symptoms other than a patch or small spot on the skin. The patch or small spot then increases in size over the years.
They more commonly appear in people over the age of 40, however, they can affect people below that age also.
The appearance of actinic keratosis includes:
- Rough, dry or scaly patch skin
- Slightly raised patch or bump on top layer of skin
- A hard wart-like surface
- Colour can vary as pink, brown or red
- Although rare, itching and burning can occur in the affected area
Is Actinic Keratosis cancerous?
Not always. If treated early, it’s often quite straight-forward to remove the all actinic keratosis before it develops into skin cancer.
Only a small percentage of lesions eventually become skin cancer if left untreated. Some actinic keratoses can progress to squamous cell carcinoma, therefore, it’s important to treat actinic keratosis appropriately.
If the actinic keratosis develops into cancer, it may present some signs and symptom, these can include:
- The lesion suddenly growing quickly
- A change in the shape
- Pain or discomfort on or around the lesion
How is it diagnosed?
Healthcare providers will look closely at the lesion, they can often diagnose it alone by looking and feeling the area of your skin.
However, in some cases it can be hard to tell if an actinic keratosis is skin cancer, as a result, you may need a small amount of the area of skin checked under a microscope, this is also known as a skin biopsy.
At The Everything Skin ClinicTM, if we believe your actinic keratosis is cancerous, we will remove a small amount of skin and run a skin biopsy to test if it’s cancerous. If it is cancerous, our expert dermatologists can diagnose and treat the lesion all under one roof.
We treat both actinic keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma at The Everything Skin ClinicTM, this is particularly appealing to people who don’t want to wait long for treatment, or don’t want to have different referrals to different locations for diagnosis and treatments.
What treatments are available?
There are many treatments available for actinic keratosis. However, the type of treatment offered to each patient will depend upon the extent of actinic keratosis and the thickness. The treatment plan will also need to suit your lifestyle.
Treatments offered may include:
- Photodynamic therapy (offers the best cosmetic results)
- Chemical peels
Will I require a consultation?
Yes. Anyone interested in treatment for actinic keratosis will need a consultation. Our expert consultant dermatologists will need to look closely at your condition. It’s important that they confirm your diagnosis and send off any biopsies (if needed).
We will also need to discuss your medical history and determine which treatment will be the best treatment option for your condition.
Protecting your skin
If you have actinic keratosis, it’s very important you protect your skin from the sun even if a lesion has been previously removed.
Protecting your skin from the sun will reduce the risk of developing any new skin lesions and it will help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
To protect yourself from the sun, we advise that you:
- Cover your skin with clothes and a hat during the warmer months
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 before going out into the sun
- Try to stay inside during the peak times when the sun is the strongest (between 11am and 3pm)
Can the actinic keratosis grow back?
In very rare cases, an actinic keratosis may grow back and it’s important to note that other lesions may appear on other areas of the body also. It’s not uncommon for more than one to appear at once, however, avoiding sun exposure will help to prevent this.
Who will carry out my treatment?
At Everything Skin Clinic™, we have a team of highly trained Consultant dermatologists, who have completed specialist training in Dermatology and are on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. All our consultants hold substantive contracts with the best Dermatology centres in leading NHS hospitals. Therefore, you can be certain of the highest quality private dermatology care.