As you age you might notice small, dry scaly patches mostly on your face. You can feel them instantly with your finger. These spots are likely to be actinic keratosis spots. Actinic keratosis spots, or sometimes dermatologists call them “AK’s” for short, are crusty bumps that form on the skin surface. They vary in size from small as a pinhead to an inch across. The colors may be light, tan, red, pink, or a combination of these. The scale is horn-like and is dry and rough and these bumps are often recognized easier by touch rather than sight. The good news is you can treat dry scaly skin spots.
Tip #1: Ask yourself why you want to deal with these scaly skin spots?
Sometimes it itches or produces a pricking or tender sensation especially after you just came under the sun. Actinic keratosis will sometimes go away only to reappear later. Usually AK’s will most likely to appear on sun-exposed areas like your ears, face, bald scalp, neck, back of hands, lips, and forearms. Actinic keratosis should be treated immediately because these bumps can be the first step in the development of skin cancer. It is said that up to 10% of active lesions that are redder and tenderer than the rest will take the next step and could progress to become squamos cell carcinoma.
Tip #2: Look for possible treatments like curettage.
There are different ways on how to treat actinic keratosis. The decisions will be made by your doctor whether or how treatment should be done. This will depend on the nature of the lesions, age, and health of the person. The most commonly used treatment is curettage. This treatment works by scraping the lesion and take some specimens for biopsy to be tested for malignancy. The doctors will control the bleeding by cautery or the application of an acid or heat produced by an electric needle. A scalpel is used to shave actinic keratosis and obtain a sample for testing. The base of the lesion is destroyed and bleeding will be stopped through cauterization.
Tip #3: Try cryosurgery.
Another treatment is called cryosurgery, which freezes off lesions. Liquid nitrogen is applied with the use of a special spraying device or cotton-tipped applicator. This treatment requires no anesthesia. The longer the spots are frozen, the better chance that it will never reappear. The only advantage of this treatment is that it leaves the skin with a lasting white spot.
Tip #4: Try chemical peels.
Chemical peels can also be used by applying the chemicals on the entire face. The top layer of the skin will peel-off making way for a new skin. Redness will usually disappear after a few days.
Tip #5: Topical creams may help.
When lesions are numerous, topical creams are usually effective in removing actinic keratosis. The patient will need to apply the medication twice daily. The progress should be checked by a doctor. The most commonly used medication is the 5-flouroracil which is to be used for at least 4 to 5 weeks.
To avoid more invasive procedure and extensive treatment in removing actinic keratosis, large multiple dry scaly skin spots should be checked and treated immediately. Regular checkup should be done by your doctor to prevent these skin bumps from developing into squamos cell carcinoma.