Actinic Keratoses Treatment in Chattanooga

What is Actinic Keratoses?

Actinic keratosis (AK) is a rough, scaly patch or bump on the skin that can lead to cancer. An actinic keratosis is a skin lesion that is the consequence of chronic sun exposure.
  • Actinic – refers to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and UV lamps, for example a sunburn is an actinic burn
  • Keratoses – is a growth of keratin on the skin

Solar keratosis is another name for the condition. Actinic keratoses is a very common skin condition treated by dermatologists.

The board-certified dermatologists at Uderm offer skin testing for actinic keratosis and the prevention of skin cancer. If you would like to learn more about actinic keratoses and the treatment options available, please call (423) 206-2777 to schedule a consultation at our dermatology clinic near Chattanooga, TN. You can also schedule your consultation through our secure online form.

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What Causes Actinic Keratoses?

You may have experienced damaging UV exposure from:

  • Chronic exposure to natural sunlight
  • Tanning bed use

It usually first appears in people over 40, especially if you are fair skinned or have had a significant amount of sun exposure.

What are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratoses?

If you have actinic keratosis, the skin may be:

  • Rough, dry or scaly
  • Red or pink
  • Light or dark tan
  • White
  • Flesh-toned
  • A combination of colors
  • Itchy, burning, bleeding or crusting

The area on the skin is sometimes raised. Because of their rough texture, actinic keratoses are often easier to feel than see. AKs are usually less than 1 inch  in diameter.

Actinic keratosis is often found on:

  • The face
  • Lips
  • Ears
  • Forearms
  • Scalp
  • Neck
  • Back of the hands

Actinic Keratoses and Cancer

An actinic keratosis sometimes disappears on its own but might return after more sun exposure. Left untreated, AK can lead to a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

It’s hard to tell which actinic keratoses will develop into skin cancer, so they’re usually removed as a precaution. Even after treatment for actinic keratosis, your dermatologist might suggest that you have your skin checked at least once a year for signs of skin cancer moving forward.

Left untreated, the risk of actinic keratoses turning into skin cancer is about 5 to 10 percent. Your dermatologist can watch for signs of new AKs and skin cancer. When found early and treated, skin cancer is highly treatable.

Diagnosing Actinic Keratoses

Most people who have AKs or other skin conditions can see a dermatologist. This is actually one of the most common conditions that dermatologists diagnose and treat, so these doctors have a lot of experience with AKs.

When you visit with your dermatologist you can expect:

  • A careful skin examination
  • Questions about your health, medications, and symptoms
  • A potential skin biopsy where a small sample of skin is taken for lab analysis

Treatment for Actinic Keratoses

If you have many AKs or AKs that you can feel but not see, your dermatologist may recommend at-home treatment.

At home treatment may include: 

  • Medicated creams
  • Gels
  • Ointments
  • Application as directed
  • Possible skin reactions that may cause inflamed skin, scaling or a burning sensation

These at-home treatments are applied to the skin to treat many AKs, including the ones you cannot see yet to avoid future risks.

Surgical and other procedures for actinic keratosis include:

  • Freezing (cryotherapy) –  Actinic keratoses can be removed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen
  • Scraping (curettage) – After applying local anesthesia, a curet is used to scrape off damaged cells
  • Laser therapy – An ablative laser device can be used to destroy the patch, allowing new skin to appear
  • Photodynamic therapy –  Apply a light-sensitive chemical solution to the affected skin and then expose it to a special light that will destroy the actinic keratosis

You and your dermatologist can discuss the best course of treatment based on your condition and desired outcomes. It may also depend on how many AKs you have, the location on the skin, and the potential side effects.

Schedule Your Actinic Keratoses Treatment Today

If you have symptoms of actinic keratoses, contact the dermatologists at Uderm to discuss your skin testing and the treatment available. To schedule a consultation at our dermatology clinic near Chattanooga, TN, please call (423) 206-2777 or schedule an appointment online today!

Request an Appointment