Actinic Keratosis Treatment Birmingham: Visit Cahaba Dermatology
While we all love soaking up some sun rays, too much time in the sun can spell trouble later on. Actinic keratosis (AK) forms when too much sun, or a tanning bed for that matter, starts to damage the skin. Think of it this way: prolonged stays under ultraviolet (UV) rays remain no friend to your skin.
While actinic keratosis may not ring any bells off the bat, its effects may prove familiar. AKs tend to feel like rough patches or spots on the skin that itch or burn when disturbed. And, for many, AKs don’t exist as a singular instance. AKs have a penchant to accompany one another, due to the nature of UV and sun exposure.
Actinic Keratosis: The Cause
Have you figured out the culprit behind actinic keratosis ? Bingo. It’s damaging ultraviolet rays. And the usual suspects are to blame for UV exposure: the sun and tanning beds. Overexposure causes skin damage, which only worsens as we age.
In our youth, our skin is able to repair UV rays’ damage to our skin. However, time does no favors. Damage concentrates and expands, with the body’s ability to repair it waning. UV-damaged skin develops over the course of time, with AKs not far behind if sun exposure continues.
How Can I Tell If I Have AK?
One of the major problems with AK lies in its general lack of symptoms, at least for some people. Even though symptoms may be in short supply, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for, including:
- Itching, burning, or other irritation;
- A seemingly invisible rough patch on the skin;
- A growth or patch of skin that causes pain when disturbed.
Besides few symptoms, actinic keratosis proves to be tricky in other ways as well. AKs have a knack for appearing, disappearing, and then reappearing later on. AKs can become pronounced on the skin, stay for months at a time, flake off, and then return. In the interim between appearances, skin can resume its signature smooth texture. However, the smoothness usually offers little remission-. AKs may be back in a matter of days or weeks, usually once someone heads outdoors without proper sun protection applied. Recurrent sun damage can lead to skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma.
How Are AKs Treated?
While actinic keratoses do result from UV and sun damage, these patches usually remain precancerous. And the good news doesn’t end there. Treatments for actinic keratosis are aplenty, both in-office and at home.
Treatment for AKs has really one goal: to eradicate the actinic keratosis. Depending on degree and severity, one or more treatments may be used to translate this goal into reality. Options include:
Cryotherapy. The most common treatment, cryotherapy literally freezes off the AK.
Photodynamic therapy. This therapy involves visible light counteracting the AK. As the skin heals, new skin replaces it.
Chemical peels. These peels boast strength enough to eradicate the AK, with new skin ousting the treated area.
Curettage. This process involves the use of a curette to cut out the visible layer of AK, with electrosurgery following. Electrosurgery burns the skin to remove more damaged tissue.
Fortunately, the skin care specialists at Cahaba Dermatology carry extensive expertise in the area of AKs. Contact us for a skin consultation, and we’ll provide a comprehensive, custom plan of action for addressing your actinic keratosis or skin cancer. Our treatment center is conveniently located in Birmingham, AL.