As the summer season comes to an end, many patients will suffer the consequences of excessive sun exposure in the form of wrinkles, skin cancer, and precancerous spots called actinic keratoses (AKs). AKs occur on sun exposed areas such as the face, scalp, and arms, looking like small, red, scaly spots that feel like sandpaper and are sometimes tender.
As Dermatologists, we treat AKs, so they don’t progress further to a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. AKs are more common in skin types that burn easily in the sun. AKs are commonly diagnosed and treated with cryotherapy, which is burning the spot with liquid nitrogen that can take a week to heal.
Another treatment modality is a chemotherapy cream called 5 fluorouracil (5FU) that is applied at home for 3 to 4 weeks and causes destruction of the AKs with good results. However, the downtime is tough for some patients as irritation and scabbing can occur through the treatment time.
Photodynamic Therapy is yet another treatment for AKs and the downtime is approximately 7 days. or less. PDT consists of a topical application of Ameluz (aminolevulinic acid) and a red-light source.
The Ameluz is applied to affected areas on the face or scalp and left on for 1 to 2 hours. The red light is then turned on for 10 minutes.
Some patients will improve after just one treatment, but most patients may need up to 3 treatments to improve AKs. Treatment sessions are performed at 1-month intervals. Doing more than 3 treatments can result in continued improvement.
Periodic treatments every 1 to 3 years can maintain your results. Avoidance of sun for approximately 48 hours after the treatment is recommended.
We are happy to provide PDT in our office at Schwarz Dermatology and hope we can get rid of the AKs on your skin! Call the office to schedule an appointment at 215-589-7373. www.schwarzderm.com.
PHOTO CAP: Red Light PDT for Pre Cancers