Understanding Actinic Keratosis (cont.)

Helpful measures include sun protection with hats, clothing, sunscreen, and sun avoidance, particularly during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional long-term maintenance options include nightly applications of retinoid creams, such as tretinoin (Retin-A) or tazarotene (Tazorac). Some studies also have shown a benefit from using green tea creams to decrease the number of AKs.

How do I know that my AK is not cancerous?

Any non-healing or recurring AK in the same spot may need a small skin biopsy to make sure it has not turned into skin cancer. Sometimes, your physician will treat the AKs and recheck them in three to four weeks. Any non-healing spots may then be suspect for possible cancer.

Is there a blood test, skin text, or X-ray to diagnose AKs?

Most AKs are diagnosed by a physician during a skin exam. There are no blood tests or special X-rays for this.

What about "UV" cameras that show sun damage?

UV cameras using special black-and-white images depicting the amount of sun damage may be helpful in some cases to demonstrate sun damage. UV cameras do not necessarily diagnose AKs or skin cancer.

Why do I have more AKs on my left side?

Overall, many people have more AKs on their left face, or driving window side, because of possible increased sun exposure while driving.

I am an avid golfer and have noticed AKs only on my right hand. Why is my left hand better?

Commonly, golfers wear a glove on their nondominant hand. The golfing glove's physical barrier gives protection from the sun's rays on the covered hand. It is common to see an asymmetric pattern of AKs primarily on the uncovered hand in golfers. It would be a great idea to consider getting matching gloves to protect both hands!

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014

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