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Actinic Keratosis Photo and Treatment

What is A.K?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer because your skin in the largest organism in your body and even though it accounts for around 2,300 deaths a year, skin cancer has the highest curable rate of around ninety-five percent but that’s only if it’s caught in the early stages. Actinic Keratosis, also known as Solar Keratosis or A.K for short is a treatable precancerous skin condition. Precancerous does not mean that you have cancer or that Actinic Keratosis is going to develop into cancer. As a matter of fact the chances that Actinic Keratosis develops into cancer are slim if any.

What you should look for?

You can identify Actinic Keratosis by its ruff, red, scaly patches on the skin which is usually found on the ear, neck, face, lips, the back of the hand and forearms.

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Actinic Keratosis will develop in these areas of the body because they are most commonly exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

U.V rays

The main cause of Actinic Keratosis is long periods of exposure to the suns harmful ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays are part of an invisible spectrum that makes up three percent of all solar radiation penetrating the earth. Even on cloudy days only about twenty percent of the UV’s are blocked.

There are two types of UV rays, UVA which are known as the tanning rays and UVB which are known as the burning rays. Both sets of rays are harmful to the skin and may cause Actinic Keratosis. UVA’s are used in tanning beds. Manufactures of tanning beds claim that only the UVB rays cause any kind of skin condition. However, dermatologists say that any long periods of exposure to the either UVA or UVB rays will cause skin damage and they recommend that you don’t use tanning beds.

How long before you notice any skin conditions and who is affected?

It takes many years for Actinic Keratosis to develop. In fact about fifty percent of all people who reach the age of sixty-five will develop some sort of skin cancer. That’s because your body will only absorb a certain amount of ultraviolet rays before the skin is permanently damage. It is also fact that the average person reaches eighty percent of the maximum exposure level by the time they are eighteen years old.

What is SPF?

It’s very important for parents to protect their kids by applying some kind of sunscreen with at least a minimum of SPF 15. SPF stands for sun protection factor which simply means how well the product will block the suns harmful UV rays and the 15 stands for 150 minutes of protection provided by the product. SPF 15 being the minimum needed but SPF 30 (300 minutes) is recommended by most dermatologist.

Alternative ways to protect yourself

For those of you who don’t like to apply sunscreen there are alternative ways to prevent Actinic Keratosis. Simply by wearing a tight knit cotton shirt or jeans is an effective way of blocking ultraviolet rays. Wearing a baseball cap will protect the face, however, it won’t protect the neck and ears therefore it’s recommended that you wear a full rimmed hat. But hats and shade will not block reflecting ultraviolet rays. Staying out of the sun during the peek hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the afternoon when the ultraviolet rays are at there most intense is another way to avoid skin problems.

Self-examination and what to do if you think you notice signs of Actinic Keratosis

During Self-examinations as you would with any type of examination you should stand in front of a mirror and carefully examine your body parts that are in constant exposure to the sun, your face, neck, ears, lips, the back of your hands and forearms. Should you happen to notice signs of Actinic Keratosis you should make an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible. If Actinic Keratosis is found early it can be simply treated by surgery, freezing, cauterizing or with topical lotions. Remember it’s very rare that Actinic Keratosis will develop into any form of skin cancer but it should not be ignored.


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