Brecksville Dermatology Now Offers Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) For The Treatment of Precancerous Skin Growths

Patients commonly ask “what are these rough spots on my skin?” A type of precancerous growth called an actinic keratosis can form on the skin in areas of chronic sun exposure.  These skin lesions feel rough like sandpaper and sometimes one can feel them better than even see them.  Sometimes the areas are pink/red and scaly.  Actinic keratoses are often found on the face, ears, balding scalp, backs of the hands, and the arms.

Why do we treat skin precancerous growths (actinic keratoses)?

We treat skin precancerous growths to prevent them from forming into a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.   A certain percentage of actinic keratoses will progress into a skin cancer if left untreated.

What is the treatment?                            

Prevention is the best approach. Wearing broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or > daily is best.  Re-apply every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating.  You should apply 1 ounce (size of a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover the sun-exposed body parts.

There are many treatments now available for skin precancerous growths. If you only have a limited number of actinic keratoses, liquid nitrogen application (cryotherapy) can be applied to the lesions.  This treatment causes a temporary burning sensation during the application. 

A topical chemotherapy cream can be prescribed for more extensive involvement of precancerous growths. This is a cream you apply at home for a number of weeks.  The treated area should be closely assessed by a Board Certified Dermatologist to be sure the lesions have cleared and that there are no signs of skin infection.  There can be “downtime” with topical chemotherapy creams (redness and crusting).  These creams can give excellent results when used in the right patient.

Another popular treatment for widespread actinic keratoses is an in-office procedure called Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). A medication is applied to the face at our office and then allowed to sit on the skin for a pre-determined amount of time.  The patient is then placed under the blue light for a short time to help the medication penetrate and destroy the precancerous skin cells.  The patient will have a “sun-burned” appearance for a few days to a week after the treatment.  Satisfaction is generally high with this approach to precancerous treatments.

If you are concerned about growths on your skin, call our office at 440-792-4802 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Georgann Poulos.