ACTINIC KERATOSIS (AK) is a rough, dry, or scaly patch or growth that appears on sun-exposed skin areas. They are usually red or pink but are sometimes flesh-colored or brownish. Most people have more than one and the plural is actinic keratoses. They are caused by exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet light) which causes cellular damage to skin cells called keratinocytes.
AKs are medically significant as they are considered to be the earliest stage in the development of some squamous cell carcinomas (type of skin cancer). They are therefore considered to be “precancerous.”. Anyone who has AKs has sustained enough sun damage to make them more susceptible to all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma. Therefore anyone who has AKs should be under the care of a dermatologist.
There are many treatment options for AKs including cryosurgery (freezing), topical medications, photodynamic therapy (Blue-light) and others. Limmer dermatologists provide expert care for all skin types and are highly experienced in the treatment of AKs.
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