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Actinic Keratosis

Heading outdoors on a sunny day is a habit of many people in Southern California. Parks, beaches and other locations are prime candidates for sports and gatherings among friends. All of this outdoor activity, however, can put some stress on your skin. Unless you're diligent about spreading sunscreen on your body every day, you may be vulnerable to skin cancer. Malignant lesions don't always show up without any warning, however. There are many warning signs that tell you that cancer might be a future issue. Actinic keratosis is a skin ailment that often leads to skin cancer, but you can fight it by partnering with your Newport Beach doctor.

Potentially Hazardous Skin Growths

Actinic keratosis is a complex term describing skin lesions. For most people, these lesions appear in circular patches where they feel crusty to the touch. You may even notice skin cells breaking away from the site, making it appear as if you have dry skin. It's important to note that these lesions aren't automatically cancerous. They're actually a warning sign that cancer might be a next step in your skin's development. If these areas are ignored, bumpy lesions may turn into visible horns that grow out of your skin. Generally, a more unusual growth has a better chance at being cancerous compared to a simple blemish.

Feeling Before Seeing

A frustrating part to actinic keratosis is the growths' developmental habits. You might have this ailment, but no growths have even occurred. A pesky itch on the back of your neck might be an indicator, however. Take a moment to really feel this skin section. Use your touch as a way to "see" the growth. AK growths will feel rough and scaly. If you press on them, they might be painful too. Consider these other symptoms that are felt rather than seen, such as:

• Burning
• Itching
• Consistently dry

Be proactive about your health, and visit your doctor. From a general practitioner to a board certified surgeon, this expert can narrow down your ailment's cause so that you can rid yourself of these frustrating skin patches.

The Hide-and-Seek Factor

A major reason why AK is often overlooked is its ability to disappear. You might have a growth that's been with you for several weeks. Over the course of a few days, the growth seems to heal just like a cut to the skin. Be aware of this growth's disappearance and possible reappearance, however. AK lesions are known to pop up at random times, such as when you head outdoors once again. Your doctor should look at these lesions as soon as you see them develop. By documenting the growths' frequencies, doctors can determine if the lesions are cancerous or not.

At-Risk Populations

People with darker skin tones tend to fight off the effects of sunlight much better than fairer people. Take a look at the population that is at risk for AK, including:

• Men
• Caucasians
• Blonde- or red-haired people
• People prone to sunburns
• Populations in close proximity to the equator

It's not impossible, however, for a dark-colored person to develop AK. You might work outdoors for long, time periods. Any excessive exposure to sunlight without sunscreen can result in AK development. Being aware of your exposure and protecting yourself are the only ways to reduce your risk factors.

Removing Suspicious Growths

Your doctor may be concerned about certain AK growths so removing them will be necessary. Take a look at these strategies to reduce your chances of skin cancer, such as:

• Photodynamic therapy
• Curettage
• Mohs surgery

When you catch the AK early, photo or light therapy is usually a good starting point. This therapy is noninvasive, but it still targets the unusual cells and breaks them down. Cutting the tissue out from the area might be necessary when doctors are concerned about growth or cancer spread. Precise, removal procedures include curettage and Mohs surgery among others.

Preventing Further Outbreaks

Once you've been diagnosed with AK, growths can occur at almost any time. It's important to continue your visits with your doctor so that he or she can evaluate the skin on a regular basis. Additionally, think about these preventive measures, including:

• Personal skin evaluations
• Wearing sunscreen every day
• Avoiding the sun during the hottest part of the day

Simply keep up with your doctor's visits and follow any instructions given at those appointments. You'll have a better chance against cancer as a result.

Where Can I Find out More Information About Actinic Keratosis Treatment?

If you are located in Orange County area and would like more information about Actinic Keratosis treatment options, contact us today.