Actinic keratosis , also known as solar keratosis, is a common skin condition that is caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight. It usually affects people who have fair skin and it can lead to the development of skin cancer if left untreated. Here, we will provide you with tips and remedies on how to treat actinic keratosis.
What Is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous lesion that develops on the skin as a result of chronic UV exposure. It typically appears in areas that have been exposed to sunlight such as the face, hands, arms, scalp or ears. AKs usually look like small bumps or patches with rough dry, scaly texture on top which may be pink-red or flesh-colored.
Symptoms Of Actinic Keratosis
The symptoms of AKs are mostly visible in their appearance but they may not cause any initial discomfort at all. They include but are not limited to:
- Small, red or tan patches
- Rough and raised lesions
- Scaly and crusty surface
- Tender growths
- Burning sensation when touched
- Bleeding from lesion
If you suspect that you might have actinic keratoses then don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist immediately for diagnosis.
Causes Of Actinic Keratosis
The primary cause of AKs is sun damage caused by overexposure to UV light rays for a long period with little protection from sunscreen products or clothing. Apart from these previous considerations other factors linked with the formation of AKs could involve:
- Ageing process where changes in the amount of melanin pigment produced reduces thus impairing sun protection
- Presence of human papillomavirus infection
- Weak immune system due medical treatment e. g after organ transplant
- Hereditary factors
Who Is More Vulnerable To Developing Actinic Keratosis?
Anyone can develop actinic keratosis, but some people are more vulnerable to developing it than others:
- People with fair skin have an increased risk of AK due to less melanin protection.
- Individuals who have had previous heavy UV exposure
- Old age patients with damaged and fragile skin
- Workers in outdoor occupations who work in the sun all day
Treatment Options For Actinic Keratosis
The goal of treatment for actinic keratoses is primarily done to prevent malignancy since these lesions may transform into squamous cell carcinoma – a type of skin cancer. Below are different approaches that could be used to manage AKs:
Prescription medications such as fluorouracil or imiquimod cream are commonly used methods for this condition. These creams are applied topically on the affected area under medical supervision and according to instruction label prescription.
Cryotherapy is one of the most popular therapies performed by dermatologists where frozen nitrogen is sprayed over the lesion freezing only the deviant cells thus killing them. This leads to regeneration process where new healthy cells growth replaces dead ones. This procedure should only be carried out by a professional practitioner.
Curettage and Electrosurgery
Involves side-by-side scraping off diseased patch using surgical tools known as curettes then burning underlying tissue through electric current thus leadngly destroying cells. Dermatology physicians can carry out this excisional surgery.
A photofacial which involves application of light source directly on preidentifed areas ensuring activation of photosensitizing agents creatng chemical reaction leading up death of targeted ill-cells And after few days peeling occurs revealing youthful unblemished undamaged epidermis layer.
Chemical peel is primarily where mild acidic solution is applied directly to actinic keratoses area leading up to the top layer of dead skin peeling off and revealing a smoother surface underneath. This rejuvenation occurs gradually.
Natural Remedies For Actinic Keratosis
Besides conventional medical treatments, some natural remedies can also be used in managing actinic keratosis. These remedies ensure they do not inflame the condition further by application or ingestion:
Apply Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract contain catechins and tannic acids compounds
which have antioxidant properties which helps protect healthy skin cells while eliminating precancerous growths thus avoiding risk of developing cancer. Application should be done 2-3 times daily for optimum effect.
Apply Aloe Vera Topically On Affected Skin Area
A plant rich in anti-inflammatory glyconutrients that soothes damaged skin caused by sunburn, it compresses affected area allowing cell regeneration process, accelerating healing.
Increase intake Of Vitamin D In Diet
Vitamin D deficiency has been associatd with increased risk of AK. This nutrient helps repair epidermis damage sustained through radiation exposure. Healthy sources include cod liver oil, fatty fish like sardines, salmon plus milk products fortified with vitamin D supplement are highly encouraged.
Consume Sufficient Level Of Broccoli
Broccoli contains sulforaphane compound which relieves oxidative stress reaction associated with UV radiation exposure. It may prevent development of AK on initially healthy skin. Sulforaphane has anticarcinogenic potential relevant against squamous cell carcinoma wounds that would originate from malignant transformation of preexisting lesions. Note, some patients complaining gastrointestinal complaints after cooking tips such as steaming are useful.
Q&A About Actinic Keratosis
To help broaden your understanding about this topic here are answers to frequently asked questions related to actinic keratoses:
Q1) The AK on my skin bleeds after getting hurt by a scratch, should i worry?
Ans) Bleeding of the lesion could have signified malignant transformation Do actinic keratoses cause itchiness?
Ans) The precancerous lesions can become painful or itchy. Hence treating them early to avoid spread of condition and eliminate symptoms is crucial.
Q3. ) Can someone outgrow actinic keratosis?
Ans)No. Actinic keratoses require proper follow-up care with dermatologists since they ultimately transform into squamous cell carcinomas which are dangerous if left untreated.
Actinic keratosis can be managed effectively through various therapies, but prevention should remain a priority for everyone. Sunscreen products with an SPF rating of at least 30 or higher should be used before heading outdoors. Wearing protective clothing would also offer protection against potential UV radiation damage to your skin. In addition, always give more attention to changes that occur on the skin like discoloration after prolonged sun exposure. Schedule regular check-ups with your dermatologist since these measures will ensure you don’t develop further complications such as cancer due to uncontrolled actinic keratosis growths in future life events.