When people spend too much time in the sun without proper protection, they can develop actinic keratosis—a rough, dry patch of skin that can itch or burn. If left untreated, these growths can evolve into malignant tumors. To help you protect your body—and minimize the need for skin cancer treatments—here are a few details everyone should know about this condition.
What Are the Signs of Actinic Keratosis?
In most cases, actinic keratosis will only cause physical changes to the skin. While the affected patches will feel dry and rough, you may not be able to actually see the growth.
Often, these patches will fade away and disappear as skin falls off. However, if the skin is exposed to the sun again, it’s common for the actinic keratosis to return. Even if the growth does not reappear, you should consult a dermatologist.
Who Is At Risk of Actinic Keratosis?
While any person can develop this condition, it is more common among those who have a history of long-term sun exposure. Individuals may also have a higher risk if they have fair or sensitive skin, blonde or red hair, or a compromised immune system. Although these patches can appear earlier, they tend to show up among those who are 40 years of age or older.
What Can You Do to Prevent It?
To minimize your risk of actinic keratosis and skin cancer treatments, develop a sun protection strategy early on. For starters, you should wear broad-spectrum sunscreen whenever you go outdoors to minimize your exposure to harmful UV rays.
Wearing sunglasses and covering up your skin will also help protect you. Visit the dermatologist for regular skin checks to ensure that no changes of concern have developed.
How Is Actinic Keratosis Treated?
Depending on the severity of the condition, there are many different ways that dermatologists can treat it. In some cases, a provider will prescribe ointments that will work to clear away damaged skin and promote new cell growth.
If these solutions aren’t effective enough, they might recommend in-office treatments—such as laser resurfacing, blue light exposure, chemical peels, and cryotherapy. In the event that affected cells have turned cancerous, early skin cancer treatments may be necessary.
If you are concerned about actinic keratosis or any other changes to your skin, Heibel Dermatology offers the in-depth care you need to feel confident about your health. Serving the Lincoln, NE, area for more than two decades, Dr. Mark D. Heibel can recognize problematic growths and deliver swift, preventive therapies to minimize more serious risks. To learn more about how this board-certified dermatologist can help with everything from acne to skin cancer treatments, visit his practice online. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, call a friendly team member at (402) 488-6969.