zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

How to Treat Precancerous Sun Damage to Skin

by
author image Sandra Ketcham
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."
How to Treat Precancerous Sun Damage to Skin
Woman applying lotion to her leg. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The American Cancer Society states that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than 1 million new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Most skin cancers are caused by excessive exposure to the sun's UV rays. Avoiding sun exposure, checking the skin regularly for abnormal changes and treating precancerous skin lesions, such as actinic keratosis, can help prevent skin cancer from developing.

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous skin condition that usually appears as flesh or pink-colored rough spots on the ears, face, hands, and other sun-exposed areas of the skin. Actinic keratosis affects an estimated 10 million Americans, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Step 1

Use the topical chemotherapy medication, 5-fluorouracil, to destroy sun-damaged areas of skin. In most cases, 5-fluorouracil requires application twice daily for six weeks. Side effects may be severe and include redness, pain, inflammation and photosensitivity.

Step 2

Treat sun damaged skin with a chemical peel or a fluorhydroxyacid peel. Chemical peels use acid to burn the top layer of skin, which causes damaged skin to peel away. New, healthy skin can then grow in its place. A fluorhydroxyacid peel combines the benefits of a chemical peel with a treatment of 5-fluorouracil. DERMAdoctor states that this type of peel may need to be repeated as many as 12 times.

Step 3

Try a topical cream, such as imiquimod, to treat multiple actinic keratosis lesions caused by sun damage. Imiquimod works by stimulating the immune system to fight abnormal skin cells. Other medications work by directly attacking the precancerous cells. Soloraze Gel is a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication approved to treat actinic keratosis.

Step 4

Undergo cryosurgery to remove actinic keratosis lesions. Cryosurgery involves the application of liquid nitrogen to the abnormal skin lesion. The liquid nitrogen freezes the cells, causing them to slough off. This procedure requires no anesthesia and is typically performed on an outpatient basis, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Step 5

Treat precancerous lesions by having them cut away. Two simple procedures, curettage and shave removal, can effectively remove lesions with minimal bleeding or side effects. Once removed, the lesion can be sent for biopsy. This method of treating precancerous sun damage is rarely used when multiple lesions or areas of skin abnormality are present.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

CURRENTLY TRENDING

Demand Media

Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please take a moment and read it here.