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It’s important to have suspicious areas of skin tracked by your dermatologist. If caught early and actinic keratosis spots are treated, it’s possible to survive skin cancer. We can identify precancerous spots and treat them in the office.
Dr. Papadopoulos and the providers at MetroDerm have long warned patients about sunbathing or visiting tanning booths. The damage done by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or the tanning booth is irreversible for the most part, and actinic keratosis (AK) is a dangerous side effect. The physicians at MetroDerm use the most advanced technology to treat all forms of keratosis.
If you think you have a suspicious area of skin, get it checked by a dermatologist, as actinic keratosis is considered a precancerous condition. If these spots (AKs) go untreated, they can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
Symptoms of Trouble
People who get AKs do not necessarily have symptoms. They notice changes to their skin such as a rough patch that is frequently red. Here’s what to look for when it comes to changes in the skin:
- Rough patch with a sandpaper-like feel or a growth that feels painful when rubbed
- Crusting, not healing
- The AK may disappear but it’s not gone
AKs tend to occur on sun-exposed areas such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, and forearms. They tend to increase in number and size as we get older. Danger zones concerning AKs include the lips, and ears as these locations can more frequently lead to skin cancer 25% of the time. By visiting a dermatologist for checkups, the AKs can be treated before they become skin cancer. If skin cancer does develop, it can be caught early when treatment often cures skin cancer.
Most Likely Candidates
- Fair skin
- Hair color is naturally blond or red
- Eyes are naturally blue, green, or hazel
- Skin freckles or burns when in the sun
- 40 years of age or older
- Weak immune system b/c of a medical condition that makes the skin extra sensitive to UV rays
- Those who work with substances that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as coal or tar
- Roofers, who have have a higher risk because they work with tar and spend their days outdoors
The most important fact to remember is sun rays harm the skin. When we are younger, the skin can repair some of the damage. As we get older, it can’t. As a result, we develop AKs which are precancerous. AKs usually appear after age 40. People who live in places that get intense sunlight all year, such as Florida and Southern California, may get AKs earlier. AKs also often appear much earlier in people who use tanning beds and sun lamps.