Actinic Keratosis

Have you noticed a dry, scaly patch of skin developing on your ears, lips, hands, or face? Have you spent a lot of time in the sun? If you answered yes to these questions, you may have actinic keratosis.

What is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is a patch of dry, rough, scaly skin. It is the direct result of prolong exposure to the sun or in some cases the UV rays from a tanning bed. It takes years for actinic keratosis to form, which is why it is often seen in older patients.

Actinic keratosis often starts off as a small patch of scaly skin, but it can quickly grow or spread. It usually spreads after you have been in the sun.

In most cases, actinic keratosis is harmless. However, in some rare cases it can be an early indication of skin cancer. Dr. Vivian Bucay and her staff specialize in the early detection of skin cancer and can help identify if your case of actinic keratosis has the potential to turn into skin cancer.

If skin cancer is suspected, our staff will conduct a skin biopsy. The results from the skin biopsy will confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer.

What are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is typically asymptomatic. In fact, a patient can have it for a number of years before he or she notices any visible signs of this skin condition.

Visible symptoms or signs of actinic keratosis include the development of a dry, scaly patch of skin that measures about 1 inch, discoloration of the skin, a slight itching or burning, or a small patch of bumps on the skin. These symptoms are often present on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as hands, face, and neck.

How is Actinic Keratosis Treated?

Most cases of actinic keratosis are resolved without the need for medication or alternative treatment. A patient is often told to avoid prolong exposure to the sun and to wear sunscreen. However, not all cases resolve themselves.

There are several treatment options for actinic keratosis that does not resolve itself or that keeps returning. Treatment options can include prescription gels and creams, photodynamic therapy, or surgical procedures, such as cryotherapy or curettage.

Actinic keratosis can be diagnosed with a visual inspection of the skin. Once a diagnosis of actinic keratosis is made, Dr. Vivian Bucay and her staff can help you create a customized treatment plan that relieves your symptoms.