What Are the Symptoms of Actinic Keratoses?
Actinic keratoses (AK) are common skin lesions caused by prolonged exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays. These precancerous growths may start small, but if left untreated, they can develop into skin cancers. The dedicated team of dermatology specialists at Clear Lake Dermatology, with convenient locations in Webster and League City, TX, is here to provide you with essential information on recognizing the symptoms of actinic keratoses and the importance of seeking professional dermatological care to reduce your risk of developing a more serious and potentially cancerous condition.
What is actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratoses are rough, scaly patches that develop on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, back of hands, forearms, or lips. These lesions are more common in individuals with fair skin, light hair, and blue or green eyes, and are often associated with cumulative sun exposure over many years.
What does actinic keratosis look like?
Because untreated AK can progress to skin cancer, it is critical to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of AK and to report any of these skin changes to your dermatologist as soon as possible. Common actinic keratosis symptoms include:
- Rough, scaly, dry patches on the skin
- Raised, inflamed lesions or patches
- Color changes, ranging from pink and red to brown or flesh-toned in most cases
- Itching or burning
- Changes in size, thickness, or the overall appearance of the patches
- Tenderness or pain
If you begin to notice any of these symptoms or a change in your skin lesions — particularly rapid growth or spreading — it is critical to contact your dermatologist as soon as possible.
Why is it important to get AK skin lesions treated?
There are many reasons why it is important for your overall health and more to seek prompt evaluation and treatment for actinic keratosis, including:
- Prevention of skin cancer (or reduced skin cancer risk): Actinic keratoses are considered precancerous, and while not all lesions progress to cancer, they should be taken seriously. Timely treatment can prevent the development of skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma.
- Enhanced cosmetic outcomes: Early intervention often leads to more effective and less invasive treatment options. Addressing AK at an early stage can result in better cosmetic outcomes, minimizing scarring and discomfort.
- Improved quality of life: Actinic keratoses can impact your quality of life by causing discomfort, itching, or affecting your self-esteem. Seeking treatment can alleviate these symptoms, allowing you to enjoy a healthier and more comfortable life.
How is AK treated?
The providers at Clear Lake Dermatology are dedicated to providing timely, comprehensive dermatological care using the most innovative and effective treatments and technologies available today. Depending on the nature, severity, location, and other aspects of your actinic keratosis, our team may recommend one or more of the following AK treatment options:
- Electrodesiccation and curettage
- Certain medications
Our goal with actinic keratosis treatment is to help restore your comfort, preserve or improve your cosmetic appearance, and reduce your risk of more serious complications — including skin cancer. If you suspect you may have actinic keratoses or notice any changes in your skin, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment at Clear Lake Dermatology.
Safeguard your health and get relief from your frustrating symptoms with actinic keratosis treatment in Greater Houston
Understanding the symptoms of actinic keratoses is essential for maintaining healthy skin and reducing your risk of skin cancer, especially in sun-exposed areas. Don’t ignore changes in your skin that could ultimately compromise your health. Take charge of your skin health and reduce your risk of skin cancer by calling Clear Lake Dermatology to schedule your comprehensive skin assessment or AK treatment consultation at either of our convenient locations in Webster or League City, TX today.