DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF ACTINIC KERATOSIS
HOW DERMATOLOGISTS DIAGNOSE ACTINIC KERATOSIS
AK is usually diagnosed by a dermatologist through thorough and close examination of the skin. If a thick growth that looks like cancer is discovered, your dermatologist will likely carry out a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy can be carried out safely by a dermatologist during an office visit.
If skin cancer gets detected early, it can be treated and cured.
HOW DERMATOLOGISTS TREAT AKs
This condition has different treatments. Some of the treatments can be carried out during your visit, while others will be used at home. Depending on the case, some patients usually needto receive more than one type of treatment. The available treatments for AKs are:
Procedures to be carried out in the office
- Chemical peel: this special peel which cannot be gotten elsewhere is usually placed on the top of the affected skin to destroy the upper layers of the skin. This destruction takes place, and new skin grows out to replace it. The place where this peel was placed can become sore or inflamed, but it is usually effective.
- Cryotherapy: this is the processes whereby visible AKs are destroyed by freezing them. When the skin gets treated, it often blisters and peels off withinseveral days or weeks. After the skin is healed, some white marks may be visible on it. This is the commonest available treatment.
- Curettage: this involves the dermatologists using a curette (an instrument) to remove a visible AK. This process is called curettage. After this, the dermatologist may need to carryout electrosurgeryto get rid of more damaged tissues. Electrosurgery burns the skin but helps in enhancing the growth of new and healthy skin.
- Laser resurfacing: this process is used to remove the top layer of the skin, and it works like a chemical peel. After the treatment, the skin may feel sore and raw, but it usually heals between a week or two producing new and healthy skin.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT): in this treatment, the skin is usually made to be more sensitive to light by the application of a solution on it and then left for a few hours. After the few hours have passed, the skin will then be exposed to a visible light either a blue or laser light. This light destroys the AKs by activating the solution which was applied to the skin. After this process, the skin will then begin to heal and then bring forth new and healthy skin.
Another way this condition can be treated is by your dermatologist prescribing medicine, which you can use at home. The medicines that are usually prescribed by dermatologists in London are:
- Diclofenac sodium gel: This gel is non-greasy, and it is to be applied to the skin with a large amount of AKs. This gel is usually used by a patient twice daily for about 2 or 3 months. For this treatment to be effective, the patient must be protected from the sun during the duration of this treatment. This treatment may not remove all the AKs, but visible results are always noticed after 30 days. The remaining AKs are usually removed by cryotherapy.
- 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream: this drug is usually used for chemotherapy, but it is applied to the skin to treat AKs. This treatment may cause temporary crusting or redness of the skin. This drug is usually applied twice daily for about 2-4 weeks except for patients with extensive damage who may need to use it for 5 weeks or more. 5-FU makes the area of the skin that was damaged by the sun to become irritated and raw. The healing process of the skin gives room for the appearance of new and healthy skin. Cryotherapy might be used after this treatment if the AKs were thick.
- Imiquimod cream: This cream treats AKs by boosting the immune system of the body so that diseased skin cells will get expelled. This cream is usually applied by the direction of the dermatologist, and it may be used for several weeks. Reddening and swelling may be noticed during this treatment, but after the treatment, the skin usually heals and become new and healthy.
- Ingenolmebutate gel: this drug is chemotherapy for the skin and is also an immune system booster. This medication can work when it is applied for three days in a row on the head and scalp for the treatment of AKs in that region or on the arms, legs and torso for two days in a row for the treatment of AKs in that region. Any means of application used can cause redness and swelling, which will disappear as the skin is healing.
Different treatments are used for different types of AKs and scientists are carrying out researches to find better options.
AK is not a common disease, and the people who are affected by this disease are few. AK is a disease that clears off with treatment.
As a person with AK, it is advisable to be under the care of a dermatologist who will be able to treat the disease and monitor you in case of a reoccurrence. If AKs is not treated, it usually develops into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. If this cancer is detected through early checkups, it can be cured. According to recent findings, most skin cancers can be cured.
Depending on your case, your dermatologist may ask you to visit the dermatology clinic in every 8 to 12 weeks or once or twice a year.
Keeping every appointment is necessary as it can help in the early detection of skin cancer.
We offer treatment for AK and other skin diseases, visit us today at Clear Skin Clinic and get yourself treated by our well trained and experienced dermatologists or call 020 71833648 to find out more.