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Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a reflection of the sun damage the accumulates in your skin over the course of time. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can penetrate and cause damage to the skin's DNA "blueprint".

These DNA errors result in the red, scaly skin changes typical of this condition. Actinic keratoses are considered to be pre-cancerous lesions. If left untreated, a small percentage of these lesions may progress to develop into a type of skin cancer know as squamous cell carcinoma.

A common initial treatment is the application of cryotherapy. This treatment utilizes liquid nitrogen sprayed onto the actinic keratoses to destroy the damaged cells and to encourage their replacement with newer cells.

Topical creams can also be applied to the skin to help resolve actinic keratoses. Examples of such therapies include imiquamod (Aldara®, Zyclara®), 5-fluorouracil (Efudex®, Actikerral®), Calcipotriol (Dovonex®), diclofenac (Solaraz®) and others.

More recently, BLU-U has been utilized to reduce sun damage in the skin. This blue light source is combined with a topically medicine (Levulan®) to eliminate damaged cells and improve the quality of the skin.

Importantly, this therapy simultaneously decreases any future risk of skin cancer occurring in the treated area.

The combination of blue light and Levulan® is one form of PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT).  Fortunately, PDT is generally very effective, well tolerated and currently covered by Alberta's provincial healthcare plan!

If you have been diagnoses with actinic keratosis, consultation with a certified dermatologist can be key to decreasing your future risk of skin cancer.  At Park Dermatology, we would be pleased to help you select a therapy plan that is right for you.


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