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Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis patient

Dr. Aggarwal and her staff at the Vein Care Center have extensive experience evaluating and treating a variety of skin conditions, which oftentimes are the result of underlying venous disease. We also, however, have expertise in treating several skin conditions that go above and beyond our expertise in venous health. Complete the online form or call us today to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations in and around Hancock, Mercer and Allen County, Ohio.

What is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis (AK) is a small rough, scaly spot or patch of skin that appears on areas of the body that have experienced extensive sun exposure. If a patient has one AK, the chances are that the patient will have additional AKs across the sun-exposed areas of their body. Although AKs are not cancerous, they are considered pre-cancerous lesions. Removing AKs will lessen the chances of developing skin cancer.

What Causes Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is caused by sustained, frequent exposure to the damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays that come from the sun or tanning beds.

What are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis tends to appear on areas of the body that have had the most sun exposure, specifically the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, shoulders, forearms and the top of the hands. The most common symptoms of AK include:

  • A dry, rough, scaly texture
  • Ranges in size from a small freckle to no larger than a quarter
  • Flat or raised
  • Brown, red or pink in color

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Actinic Keratosis

Men and women of all ages, skin types and skin colors can develop AK. However, people are more likely to get these skin lesions if they:

  • Are 40 years of age or older
  • Live in a warm, sunny climate
  • Work outside
  • Sunbath or use a tanning bed
  • Tend to burn or freckle with sun exposure
  • Have blond or red hair
  • Have light eyes
  • Have had previous occurrences of AK or skin cancer

Have a weakened immune system as the result of a health condition, medication or chemotherapy

Why is it Important to Treat Actinic Keratosis?

If a patient has one AK, that is an indication that the skin has sustained significant sun damage. The likelihood that more AKs are present is high. Having one or more AKs puts a patient at higher risk for developing skin cancer. While less than 10 percent of AKs develop into skin cancer, most squamous cell carcinomas begin from AK. Therefore, to prevent the development of skin cancer of any kind, it is best to be evaluated by a trained professional. Furthermore, treating AKs is a proactive measure to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer while also improving the appearance of the skin.

What Treatments are Available for Actinic Keratosis?

At the Vein Care Center, cryotherapy is the gold standard for treating AKs. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the AK. Over time, the treated AK may blister and peel. Eventually, new skin will appear. Cryotherapy is the preferred treatment for AK because it:

  • Is a quick treatment, thus several AKs can be treated during one office visit
  • Is effective, usually just one freezing treatment and the AK is eliminated
  • Can be performed in the doctor’s office
  • Requires no anesthesia
  • Does not cut the skin
  • Requires no stitches
  • Has minimal side effects
  • Requires no downtime or recovery time

Cryotherapy is well tolerated by patients. Common side effects following treatment include blistering and dryness at the treatment site(s). It is rare to have complications from cryotherapy; however, the treated skin may change in texture, darken, scar or become infected. During your in-person consultation, we will evaluate your skin to ensure you are a suitable patient for this treatment procedure. We strongly recommend that all our patients also see a dermatologist on a yearly basis for a full skin health check.

If you have scaly, dry patches of skin or have concerns about something on your skin, our caring team at the Vein Care Center is here to help. Dr. Manu B. Aggarwal, MD, MHSA, is a board-certified family physician with extensive experience evaluating and treating skin conditions. We offer convenient locations in Findlay, Bluffton, Celina and Lima to serve our patients. Call us at 419 227 4472 to learn more, and schedule a consultation today.

The information about actinic keratosis was reviewed by Dr. Manu B. Aggarwal. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form below.

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