Actinic Keratosis is the inevitable bane of aging from those suffering from cumulative sun damage. I see them most frequently on hairline, upper lip, nose, ears, hands and arms. Actinic Keratosis (AK) can advance 65% of the time to skin cancer (squamous cell) and early detection and and treatment is critical.
Several therapies are utilized to treat AKs. One of the most commonly used are topical medications. 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream or solution acts as chemotherapy while another drug, imiquimod, stimulates interferon by the immune system. Another drug better tolerated by sensitive skin is diclofenac combined with hyaluronic acid.
I see them most frequently on hairline, upper lip, nose, ears, hands and arms.
Most exciting is the recently approved ingenol mebutate (Picato®). It is the first first topical medication needing just two or three days to effectively treat AKs.
See your dermatologist yearly for annual skin cancer checkups but get an appointment earlier if you suspect actinic keratosis. And remember, you have a 1 in 5 chance of developing skin cancer according to the American Academy of Dermatology!
(First published 02/28/12)