As a medical skin care nurse, I see many skin problems; and as a first assistant in surgery, I have helped with the removal of many, many skin cancers. A pre-malignant condition of thick, scaly or crusty patches of the skin is called actinic or solar keratosis, which is diagnosed by a physician. This skin condition can show up on your face, lips, ears, back, hands, forearms, scalp and neck. The cause is frequent exposure to UV rays, typically from the sun. Many doctors consider actinic keratosis to be precancerous because it can develop into skin cancer. If you have a lesion that persists, grows or bleeds, see your doctor. If treated early, almost all keratoses can be eliminated before developing into skin cancer. However, if left untreated, these spots or patches may progress to squamous cell carcinoma, a serious form of skin cancer. The more keratoses you have, the greater your chance of developing skin cancer.
Keratosis treatments include freezing with liquid nitrogen, applying creams or ointments, scraping, biopsy, phototherapy, laser therapy, dermabrasion and chemical peels. Your doctor or dermatologist can discuss with you which treatment is appropriate for you.
Take these steps to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays:
- Limit your time in the sun.
- Use sunscreen.
- Wear clothing that covers up arms and legs and a broad- brimmed hat to shield rays from face.
- Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications like antibiotics, Advil, Motrin, birth control pills, some high blood pressure medications and Accutane. Always check with your pharmacist or physician on which medications are sun sensitive.
- Check your skin regularly and see your doctor for any changes in skin.
Remember, regular follow-up treatments are advised. The regular checks are to make sure new lesions or bumps have not developed and that the old ones haven’t become thicker or have skin disease. If you have any questions or would like a free consult please call Donna McMickens, L.P.N. at (318) 561-0916 or (318) 487-2020.