Actinic Keratoses & Photodynamic Therapy
with Blu-U and Levulan
Actinic (Solar) Keratoses (aka AKs, Pre-cancers)
Strimling Dermatology, Laser & Vein Institute of Summerlin, Las Vegas specializes in the diagnosis, management and treatment of actinic keratoses in an effort to prevent future skin cancer transformation.
Appearing on the skin as small, dry to scaly, white or red or brown spots, actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous skin growths that represent the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer. Fortunately, actinic keratoses are readily treatable via a variety of methods, including freezing with liquid nitrogen, called Cryosurgery and photodynamic therapy (PDT) with Levulan , among other treatments. If left untreated, some actinic keratoses will develop into squamous cell cancer, which is a potentially dangerous skin cancer that can metastasize (spread to distant body sites) and must be completely removed as soon as is practical. However, most actinic keratoses will not undergo malignant change and some may even go away naturally. Yet, because actinic keratoses are easily treated and may progress into a dangerous type of skin cancer, treatment of actinic keratoses by a Dermatologist is usually recommended. Diagnosis of actinic keratoses is usually by visual exam by a Dermatologist. Sometimes, one or more lesions is surgically biopsied or removed for pathology. Even with treatment, new or recurrent actinic keratoses will continue to develop requiring periodic, on-going visits for exam and re-treatment. Actinic keratoses are also separately a risk factor for skin cancer and thus, necessitate close monitoring by a dermatologist per his or her recommendation.
Actinic keratoses are caused by chronic (long term) or intense exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light rays, as from the sun or tanning beds or sun lamps. Most detrimental sun damage occurs within the first several decades of life. However, sun damage is also cummulative and worsens with age. Over time this damage eventuates into actinic keratoses, skin cancers and the other tell tale signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles and sun / age spots.
Individuals with fair skin complexions (associated with blond or red hair, and/or blue or hazel eyes) are at more risk than those with darker skin tones. Fair skin has less melanin pigment which helps protect our skin from UV rays. Medications or medical conditions that impair one’s immune system can also promote the development of actinic keratoses.
In addition to cryosurgery and PDT therapy, other treatment options include: curettage and electrosurgery, surgical removal, chemical or laser peeling, and topical medicines, such as fluorouracil (5-FU), imiquimod (Aldara / Zyclara), ingenol mebutate (Picato), and diclofenac (Solaraze).
Prevention of AKs involves reducing your skin’s exposure to UV rays by staying out of the sun or using sunscreen when in the sun. Also, examine your skin monthly for suspicious / changing or new skin growths and get examined by one of our Dermatologists periodically and as needed.
Other helpful sun protection tips include:
- limit your sun exposure from 10 am to 4 pm,
- wear sun-protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat,
- use a SPF 30 or > sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays,
- re-apply sunscreen after sweating or swimming
- avoid tanning booths or sunlamps.
At Strimling Dermatology, Laser & Vein Institute of Summerlin, Las Vegas, our board certified Dermatologists, Dr. Strimling and Dr. Handler specialize
in the diagnosis and treatment of actinic keratoses. Voted or selected multiple times among the “Best or Top Dermatologists” in Las Vegas and America, our dermatologists and staff are among the most experienced in Las Vegas.
Contact Us at (702) 243-6400 to schedule a personalized consultation.
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Strimling Dermatology, Laser & Vein Institute of Summerlin, Las Vegas treats patients from all over the Clark County valley, including Henderson, Green Valley, Anthem, North Las Vegas, Boulder City as well as Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada and the rest of the southwest. We have also seen patients from all over the country and world.