An actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis, is a common premalignant skin lesion. An actinic keratosis occurs when the cells that comprise 90 percent of the epidermis, the keratinocytes, change their size, shape or organization in a process called cutaneous dysplasia.This alters the texture of the skin surface and may extend deeper, into the dermis.
Depending on the location and severity of the lesion, an actinic keratosis may be treated in a number of ways. The patient and doctor will decide on methodology in consultation. These may include:
- Cryotherapy, or freezing
- Curettage, or scraping
- Application of cream or ointment
- Chemical peeling
- Photodynaminc therapy using laser light
An abscess is an infection of the soft tissue that results in a pooling of pus. Typically, an abscess is caused by bacteria, although it may be the result of a virus or fungal infection. An abscess appears as a reddened, swollen, painful area, often in the groin or armpit. Most often, surgical abscess drainage is necessary to treat an abscess successfully.
Benign skin lesions are skin growths which, although sometimes irritating or unsightly, are not usually dangerous. Many benign lesions do not require treatment except for cosmetic reasons. Some, however, may itch, burn, sting, or be otherwise uncomfortable if left untreated and some may lead to possibly malignant changes in the skin.
Frequently, patients are familiar with a particular skin lesion and are therefore comfortable either ignoring it or treating it with home or over-the-counter remedies. Nonetheless, in any case where an individual is even slightly doubtful about the nature of a skin lesion, a dermatologist should be consulted since an apparently benign blemish may be a skin cancer and potentially deadly.
There are a great many varieties of benign skin lesions, including:
- Freckles and age spots
- Skin tags
- Cherry angiomas
- Seborrheic keratoses
- Cold sores
- Pyogeic granulomas
When a patient desires to have a benign skin lesion removed because it is unsightly or uncomfortable, there are several treatments available, including:
- Cryosurgery, freezing with liquid nitrogen
- Curettage, scraping of the skin's surface
- Electrocautery, burning off with electric current
- Laser ablation, vaporizing with laser energy
- Surgical excision
Each variety of benign skin lesion has distinctive characteristics. Some types tend to appear on certain body parts or to present in a particular pattern on the skin. Even so, in many instances benign skin lesions are difficult to distinguish from one another or from some more serious disorder. Therefore, it is always wise to consult with a dermatologist who is a highly trained observer. If the doctor has any question, a definitive skin biopsy can be performed.
Sun damage can affect any area of your skin as a result of long-term exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Sun damage most commonly occurs on the face, hands and arms, and may lead to sun spots, age spots, rough skin and wrinkles. Years of sun exposure can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
The best treatment against sun damage is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It is important to wear sunscreen lotion on a daily basis and avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Existing sun damage can be treated through skin procedures like BOTOX®, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and intense pulsed light therapy.
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Most skin cancers, 80-85%, are basal cell, affecting the uppermost layer of the epidermis. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in 10% of all skin cancer patients and affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis. The most serious, and most rare, of skin cancers are melanomas. Melanomas are dangerous since they can metastasize quickly. Melanomas are the leading cause of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.
To learn more about our Medical Dermatology Services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment!