Home :: Skin Disorders :: Keratoacanthoma

Highlighting Keratoacanthoma Ear Picture

In the last few years more and more individuals have become aware of the risk of skin cancers. With this in mind, it is important for all individuals to be aware of the different types of disorders that are out there and how to recognize if you may be inflicted with one of these skin aliments.

Keratoacanthoma

Keratoacanthomas is often also referred to as “KA” by dermatologist and other doctors. Keratoacanthoma is a skin disorder that can be recognized by its round and firm appearance. Many times it is red, or pink, usually flesh colored, as seen in the picture above. They have a center that contains keratin. Keratin is a type of protein that is found in hair and nails. It is the protein that keeps your nails hard and not easy to break. The center of the skin growth is usually scaly or crusted. These skin growths are common and most of time they are benign.

Who can get them?

Anyone can develop keratoacanthomas. They are most commonly found in older and light-skinned individuals.

What can cause them?

One of the primary causes of keratocanthoma is prolonged exposure to the sun. It may also occur in individuals who have had contact with coal tar.

How does it happen?

Keratocanthomas occur when cells in hair follicles grow abnormally. It seems to be connected to a site of a previous injury or trauma to the skin. This could be either a bump, bruise or scrape in the area that had been previously exposed to the sun.

Where do they appear?

Keratocanthomas usually appear on the face, forearms, back of the hands, and on the legs.

What are the symptoms?

Keratocanthomas start out small, but they can grow rapidly. They can grow to close to 1-2cm over a period of one to two months. If not treated by a dermatologist they will usually stop growing after two to three months, and then begin to shrink after three to six months. They will completely disappear after six months, but they often leave behind a scar. These are just averages, every individual’s case is different, and time frames can vary.

How can it be diagnosed?

Once you develop one of these skin lesions it is best to visit the doctor. Your doctor will take your medical history and perform a skin examination. A piece of the skin may be removed and examined. This is called a biopsy, this is done you rule out if the growth is cancerous. Keratoacanthomas can at times resemble some other forms of skin cancers, so it is important to have it checked out.

What treatments are available?

The first option is the removal of the growth. This is done through a procedure known as cryotherapy. This is when the growth is frozen with liquid nitrogen; this will cause the growth to dry up and form a scab over the area. It is then scraped off or curt out from the skin. This is usually painless and can be done during an office visit to the dermatologist.

During the first six weeks, the doctor may opt to prescribe a topical 5% fluorouracil cream. The cream needs to be applied three times a day. Using this cream has been found effective in treating these skin growths early on. A 25% benzoin cream may also be used, but this is only used after the crust has been removed. It needs to be applied for two weeks and needs to be done under a supervision of a doctor.

Another treatment that has also been effective is the use of 5-fluorouracil injections. These injections are given at the site of the skin growth. They are used for growths that are in their later stages.

Radiotherapy is also used on skin growths that are larger than normal and in areas that are more difficult to treat. Radiotherapy is the use of radiation to remove or shrink the growth.

It is important to remember that even if a skin growth does not look serious, it is always recommended that you visit a doctor and have it looked at. The earlier the treatment, the more likely you will be able to prevent long term serious damage.


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