If you have rough, scaly skin patches on your ears, face, neck, hands and forearms, you may have a condition called actinic keratosis. It's typically the result of persistent, unprotected exposure to the sun. This skin condition can ultimately become cancerous, which is a serious concern. The good news is that working with a dermatologist may help you treat the condition and protect your long-term health. Here are a few treatment options to consider.
Medicated Topical Cream
When identified in its early stages, you can typically treat the condition with a topical medicated cream. Applied a few times a day, the cream will help you eliminate the patches. The downside is that this kind of treatment takes longer than others, so it won't work as quickly as surgery would. Your dermatologist can help you determine how long you'll need to use it.
If you are beyond the point where cream will help treat your condition, your dermatologist may suggest that you have a treatment called curettage. It includes steps to scrape the skin surface away, eliminating the scaly cells. After this treatment, your dermatologist will recommend electrodessication. This process includes the application of a needle to direct electrical current to the rash. The current will help close off the broken blood vessels and any residual cancerous cells.
Photodynamic therapy is another viable option that includes treating the cells with photosensitization. The product used for this is aminolevulinic acid. The acid absorbs light, so it will be able to absorb the energy from light and direct the energy to the cancerous cells. The treatment often results in swelling and a bit of redness in the area for a few days after the treatment, but it is effective in areas that are often harder to treat in other ways, like your face or your scalp.
Sometimes, these treatment choices aren't enough to eliminate the condition. In those cases, your dermatologist will suggest surgery to eliminate the problem. In most cases, cryosurgery is the best option, which includes freezing the area with liquid nitrogen. If your condition isn't responding to other treatments, this is usually reserved as a last resort for extreme cases.
When it comes to treating skin conditions like this that could become cancer, you need to be aggressive about the treatment. With the information here, you can talk with your dermatologist about your condition and seek treatment right away. You can also read more about other dermatological conditions before visiting your dermatologist.