Actinic Keratosis: An Important Warning Sign to Protect Your Skin

We all know that the sun’s ultra violet rays can be especially damaging to our skin; causing us to wrinkle prematurely, destroying our skin’s elasticity, and even sometimes leading to the formation of skin cancer.  Just as sunburn is visible, physical proof of sun damage, the formation actinic keratosis is tangible proof of sun exposure and often a precursor to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas.

Actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis or sun spot, is a non-threatening, rough (sand paper textured), pinkish spot on the skin.  Because the spots are so easily overlooked, they often go undetected for years before progressing to a true cancer which must be completely removed.   Actinic keratoses are almost exclusively found on sun exposed skin (especially in fair skin patients with light eyes).  Keratoses frequently appear in clusters on the face and forehead. While not all types of keratosis will lead to cancer, it’s vital to seek treatment from a dermatology specialist so he/she can destroy these cells before they are allowed to progress.

Individuals with fair complexions, hair, and eye color should be particularly vigilant about skin cancer screenings and ensure they have at least one annual skin cancer body check.  “Fair” patients are those that frequently complain how they tan poorly and burn easily.  Most insurance policies now allow a careful yearly exam to not only identify these precancerous growths, but also to find and identify abnormal moles which may be, or become, malignant melanoma.

Avoiding these abnormal growths is fairly simple: regularly shield your skin (i.e.- face, body, and neck) with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and avoid extended periods of sun exposure.  Remember, avoiding the sun will also help prevent premature aging and wrinkling.  If you’re concerned about getting enough sun for healthy vitamin D production, a simple blood test can determine whether a dietary supplement may be needed.  The benefits of decreased exposure and enhanced sun protection measures far outweigh those of extended sun exposure.

Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s board certified specialists remind you to protect your skin even throughout the winter months. Reflective agents like ice and snow can magnify the harmful effects of harmful UV rays.  To learn more about skin cancer prevention or skin cancer treatments available at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta visit their website or continue to read their blog.