Actinic keratoses (or AKs) are pre-cancerous skin growths caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning beds. AKs may appear as rough patches that are dry and scaly, skin-colored patches that feel gritty, red bumps, thick growths that are red and scaly, or crusted growths that vary in color from red to brown, to yellowish black. AKs may also be itchy, tender, or painful and may sometimes bleed. AK treatments include prescription topical medications and photodynamic therapy.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a two-step treatment available at our Fenton and Chesterfield clinic locations to treat actinic keratoses (precancerous spots) on the face, scalp, or upper extremities. Step 1 of PDT treatment is the application of medication that makes the skin sensitive to light. Following this in-office application, you will return to the waiting area for about an hour while the medication takes effect. Step 2 of PDT treatment is a 16-minute exposure to the Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator. Skin treated with medication will remain sensitive to light following the treatment; avoid exposure to sunlight or bright light for the next 48 hours. You may experience redness, swelling, and/or peeling following PDT treatment. Results will be evaluated in a six-week follow-up visit with a provider. For severe cases of actinic keratoses, a second treatment may be recommended.