Actinic keratoses/pre-cancerous/dry scaly crusty lesions/sun damage

Actinic keratoses are potentially pre-cancerous dry-scaly lesions that usually appear on hands, face, ears, bald heads, any skin that was extensively exposed to sun during one’s life.

The condition usually becomes evident as we age – some people showing them in their 30’s but usually in the 40’s and 50’s and older. Light skin toned individuals that did not make good and effective use of sunscreen in their youth and yet spent time in the sun, are most susceptible to them. Men account for a larger percentage of actinic keratoses sufferers. Even intermittent sun exposure (and typical San Francisco foggy/cloudy weather) does not stop UVA exposure. Use of tanning beds is one of the worst ways to expose your skin to the potential of creating actinic keratoses as you age.

They present with intermittent expression, even in patients with extensive damage, according to an 11-month study presented at a Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting in 2009.

A small percent of Actinic Keratoses can become pre-cancerous (leading to squamous cell carcinoma’s according to skincancer.org , and dermatologists will assess them to see if they should be removed or left alone. Very often they use cryosurgery (freezing it with liquid nitrogen) and in some of us, it results in depigmented ‘white’ spots. Other options are strong chemical peels or 5-Fluoroucil (5-FU)…an easy to remember acronym

They are not attractive (hard scaly areas on the skin never are) and applying moisturizer all over them will mask them for a while, but it appears that they naturally wax and wane according to this report in Dermatology Times .

If you are concerned, go see your dermatologist. If they get burned off, use alocell gel to help the skin heal and reduce the potential for scaring. Most importantly, wear a mineral sunscreen everyday!

What I have stated here is not meant to diagnose your condition nor try and claim to cure it. Just helpful suggestions that usually create positive changes. We are all unique, and our body chemistry and genetic inheritance will often create unique skin conditions. I always hope that I can help the majority who fall in the middle between the extremes.

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