What is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic keratosis (AK) is a skin condition caused by too much sun exposure. It appears as scaly patches on the skin, usually on the face, scalp, ears, neck, arms, and back of the hands. It is not cancerous, but it can become cancerous if not treated.
Symptoms Actinic Keratosis
-Dry, scaly patches of skin
-Patches that are rough and feel like sandpaper
-Patches that are red, pink, or skin-colored
-Patches that are small (1-2 mm) or larger
-Patches that have a waxy or hardened appearance
Development of Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis develops when the skin is exposed to sunlight for a long time. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the skin cells, causing them to become abnormal and grow out of control. The longer and more intense the exposure, the more likely it is that actinic keratosis will develop.
Treatments of Actinic Keratosis
- Topical medications: Medications, such as creams, ointments, or gels, can be applied directly to the affected area. These medications work by killing the abnormal skin cells.
- Cryotherapy: This treatment involves freezing the affected area with liquid nitrogen. The freeze destroys the abnormal skin cells.
- Photodynamic therapy: This treatment involves applying a special light-sensitive medication to the affected area. The medication is then activated with a special light, which kills the abnormal skin cells.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected area.
How to Manage Actinic Keratosis Symptoms at Home
Actinic keratoses are lesions that develop on the skin due to excessive exposure to sun and ultraviolet radiation. They typically appear as scaly patches on the face, neck, arms, and hands, and can be red, tan, or brown in color. If left untreated, actinic keratoses have the potential to develop into skin cancer. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage and relieve actinic keratosis symptoms at home.
1. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing: One of the best ways to manage actinic keratosis symptoms is to prevent them in the first place. Make sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wear protective clothing when you’re outside, especially when the sun is strongest.
2. Limit sun exposure: Reducing the amount of time you spend in the sun can help to reduce the risk of developing new actinic keratoses. Try to stay out of the sun during peak hours, which is usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3. Use topical creams: There are several creams available over-the-counter which can help to reduce the appearance of actinic keratoses. These creams may contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, or urea which help to dissolve the lesions.
4. Try cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a procedure in which a physician freezes the actinic keratosis with liquid nitrogen. This method can be effective in removing the lesions, but may require multiple treatments.
5. Use herbal remedies: There are many herbs that have been used to treat actinic keratosis. These include aloe vera, chamomile, St. John’s wort, and green tea. Herbal remedies can be applied topically or taken orally to help reduce the appearance of actinic keratoses.
By taking steps to protect yourself from the sun and using topical creams or herbal remedies, you can help to reduce the appearance of actinic keratoses and manage the symptoms. However, if the symptoms persist or if the lesions show any signs of change, it is important to see a doctor for a professional diagnosis and treatment.