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Everything You Want to Know about Successfully Treating Actinic Keratosis


Actinic keratosis is a common skin condition. A dermatologist in London says that if it is not treated on time, the condition may lead to skin cancer. The doctor is associated with Clear Skin Clinic at Harley Street in Marylebone and possesses vast experience in handling such cases.

A large number of treatment options are available for this particular skin condition although the most appropriate option is selected based on different factors. These factors include:

  • The patient’s age
  • The type of actinic keratosis lesions the patient develops
  • Overall health of the concerned individual

If the right treatment is provided on time, the chances of the condition turning into skin cancer can easily be prevented.

What is actinic keratosis?

In medical terminology the condition is also called solar keratosis. In simpler words it is a condition of severe damage to the skin caused by the sun. The damage is so severe that it can easily turn to skin cancer.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include appearance of crusty, scaly patches or lesions on the body parts that are more exposed to the sun. The affected areas include scalp, face, lips, ears, forehead, shoulder, forearms, back of the palms and even the chest.

According to research, fair-skinned individuals above 40 years are at maximum risk of developing this condition. Usually multiple lesions appear on the body that initially look like tiny blemishes and feel like sandpaper because of their rough surface.

The lesions grow slowly but steadily; they may also disappear and reappear in course of time. Their size ranges between 1/8 and ¼ inches and the colour ranges from red to tan and pink to skin-toned. The lesions are itchy with burning sensation although in severe cases they are also known to bleed.

The majority of this range of lesions is precancerous. Only 10% of such cases turn to squamous cell carcinoma or a severe type of skin cancer. Technically, the more actinic keratosis lesions you develop the higher risk you have to develop skin cancer. 3 out of every 5 squamous cell carcinoma cases originate from untreated actinic keratosis, says our friendly private dermatologist in London.

When skin cancer is concerned, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of the disease only after basal cell carcinoma. In 1 out of every 10 such cases, carcinoma or cancer spreads to the internal organs and proves to sometimes be life-threatening.

What are the modern treatment options to cure this condition?

Alike other types of skin cancer, timely detection and diagnosis are crucial for successful treatment and complete cure from actinic keratosis. Not only a large number of effective treatment options are available but also most of them are fast, pain-free and involve zero downtime.

The treatment options include the following:

  • Surgical excision: Your dermatologist applies local anaesthesia to numb the affected area and then the lesions are removed using a scalpel. A portion of the surrounding, unaffected skin is also removed to ensure that the infection is removed. The wound is then stitched up to facilitate faster healing.
  • Curettage: This methodology is also applied to treat skin cancer formed at the upper skin layers. A curette is used, which is looped with sharp edges. An electro-cautery needle is then applied to destroy the remaining cancerous cells.
  • Cryo-therapy: Alternatively, the procedure is called cryosurgery; it involves a simple and totally non-invasive procedure of freezing and destroying the cancerous growths on the skin directly applying liquid nitrogen to the affected skin surface.
  • Chemical peels: In this procedure a specially formulated solution is applied to the skin. As a result, the skin develops blisters and peels off. The treatment is done at a dermatologist’s office and lasts less than an hour.

[It is important to note that cryotherapy and chemical peel are more effective when a patient develops multiple actinic keratosis lesions on the face. Both procedures have minimal chance of scarring.]

  • PDT or Photodynamic Therapy: This procedure uses laser rays to activate the photosynthesising molecules on the skin surface. As a result, the affected skin cells get killed. A light-sensitising cream is first applied to the skin surface followed by exposing those skin parts to laser ray. The treatment is done at a dermatologist’s office and even at the outpatient department (OPD).
  • Immunotherapy: A combination of topical drugs is applied on a patient in this treatment procedure with the aim to trigger an immune response. As a result, the ‘T’ cells get activated and attack the abnormal, precancerous cells resulting from actinic keratosis.

There are many reliable and reputed private clinics that offer actinic keratosis treatment in London. Remember that the key to complete recovery and avoiding skin cancer resulting from the condition depends on earlier diagnosis and timely treatment. Feel free to contact us today for more information.