Actinic keratoses (AKs) are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin that are caused by too much exposure with ultraviolet light such as sunlight and tanning beds. You may refer to them as sun spots. AKs most often show up the face, scalp, and ears. Varying in color from skin toned to reddish brown, actinic keratoses can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a quarter.
Actinic keratoses develop over time due to years of sun damage. Even if you never spent much time in the sun, simple tasks such as going from your car to the grocery store or watering your plants outside without sunscreen add up and increase your risk for developing AKs. AKs take a long time to develop and usually appear after the age of 40. Your risk of developing AKs increases if you have one or more of the following risk factors: a history of cumulative sun exposure, fair skin, blonde or red hair (in particular if combined with blue, hazel or green eyes), a tendency to freckle or burn after sun exposure, and a weakened immune system.
Actinic keratoses are the most common precancer. They are capable of turning into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). About 10 percent do develop into SCC within just a couple of years. Since we don’t know which AKs will turn into squamous cell carcinoma, it is imperative for those with AKs to regularly be seen by a dermatologist. Repeated skin checks are important for early detection and prevention. Actinic keratoses can be treated with liquid nitrogen for individual lesions. If field therapy is needed, patients can be treated with topical cream or photodynamic light therapy. At Susan H Weinkle, MD’s office, we offer all modalities to treat your AKs.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer and pre-cancer regimen that uses certain medications called photosensitizing agents (Levulan Kerastick), together with Blu-U blue light to obliterate the cancer cells on the surface of the skin. When you come in to receive your PDT, our nurse practitioner will apply the Levulan Kerastick topical solution to your AK lesions. Next you’ll have to wait the recommended time in order to allow the solution to penetrate the targeted cells. We recommend you take come Tylenol or Advil while waiting. After that waiting period, you will return for a second part of the treatment which includes illuminating your treated lesions with the Blu-U blue light. During this blue light treatment you may experience some stinging or burning, but this is normal and should feel better between 1 minute and 24 hours after the blue light is turned off.
After your PDT it is very important that you avoid sunlight and any other bright lights for at least 40 hours after the Levula Kerastick topical solution has been applied. Some examples of bright light to stay away from include tanning beds, household lights at close distance, exam room lights, the beach, and anything else that light can reflects off. Sunscreens with a physical blocker such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are necessary to protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light during this time. Dr. Weinkle recommends Neutrogena Sheer Zinz SPF 50.
Common side effects may occur during and after your PDT. These side effects include burning and/or stinging, which may last up to 24 hours after your Blu-U treatment. Redness and swelling may also occur, as well as scaling and crusting. Moisturizers should help provide some relief during this time. There are pros and cons to PDTs. There are many studies that have proven PDT to work as well as surgery or radiation therapy in taking care of certain types of cancers and pre-cancers. Some advantages include:
- No long term side effects
- Minimally invasive
- Outpatient procedure
- A field treatment, treating a large area and sub-clinical lesions
- Same site can receive multiple treatments, if necessary
- Less expensive than other cancer treatments
Some disadvantages include:
- PDT can only treat areas where the light can reach and can’t be used to treat large cancers or cancers that have grown deep into the skin.
- PDTs cannot be used to treat cancers that have spread to other organs in your body.
- The drugs used for PDT usually make people sensitive to light afterwards, so special precautions need to be taken such as staying indoors, avoiding the beach,, and anything else that light might reflect off of.
- PDT cannot be used in people who have certain blood diseases, such as any of the porphyrias (a rare group of diseases that affect the skin or nervous system) or people who are allergic to porphyrias in the past.
To find out more information about PDTs, or if you have AKs that are concerning, please contact Susan H Weinkle, MD: (941) 794-5432. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Its fall, and a lot of us are looking for ways to refresh our skin for the holidays. Chemical peels were some of the original cosmetic facial treatments invented by the ancient Egyptian aristocracy, and are still some of our favorite procedures to help brighten-up our complexions!
A chemical peel is a treatment used to enhance the look and feel of the skin on the face, neck, chest. The new skin that surfaces from beneath is softer, smoother and more brilliant, with more even tone, texture and pigmentation. Today, we use chemical peels for a variety of cosmetic and medical concerns: to reduce brown spots, improve texture, improve melasma, to treat some types of acne, to increase collage production, encourage healthy cell rejuvenation, and to reduce fine lines.
The chemical peel offered at Susan H Weinkle, MD’s office is a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel, which varies in strength, depending on personal need. We recommend taking a Tylenol or Advil prior to getting your peel as this will help with minor discomfort. You can expect to have about 7 days of downtime, meaning you will be peeling and should not go in the sun. After the peel, when you leave our office, you should wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
Consultations are imperative when making any decision for your skin, especially for chemical peels. Talk with Dr. Weinkle about your exact goals. Chemical peels are advantageous for most skin types and many people are perfect candidates for it. Do your research and educate yourself on chemical peels prior to committing to an appointment. Ask questions. That is why we are here! Call us at (941) 794-5432 to schedule a consultation today.
Florida’s intense climate can be problematic on your skin, even if you’ve lived here for years. During fall, daylight decreases, temperatures drop, and the air turns drier. Your skin also starts to dry out as well. Believe it or not, in addition to your wardrobe changing with the new season, your skin care regimen should also change. Below are some trouble-free skin care suggestions for fall:
- Assess Your Skin Type – With the cooler temperatures, many people notice their skin types starting to change. You may have used certain skin care products in the summer that just aren’t working for you anymore. For example, you might have had oily skin to treat, but now that the weather is changing you may notice that you’re especially dry and need extra moisturizers.
- Sunscreen – It’s extremely important to remember to continue using sunscreen during the fall and winter seasons. In the fall, the temperatures are dropping, the days are shortening and are often overcast, but the sun still has strong ultra violet rays that will burn you. You still need to protect yourself by applying sunscreen every day. Don’t forget to reapply after being in the sun for two hours, and make sure you’re using a SPF with at least 15. Sunscreen can also double up as a moisturizer so if you’re prone to dry skin during the cooler seasons, this will double benefit you. Applying sunscreen is one easy habit that really pays off by means of reducing the signs of aging and preventing skin cancer.
- Exfoliate – Since dry skin is more prominent during the cooler seasons, you’ll definitely want to exfoliate regularly. Start out a couple of times per week, and if irritation occurs, cut back to once per week. If your skin really likes the exfoliation, you can do it more often, however just remember to moisturize afterwards. This is particularly imperative if you’re prone to acne. Exfoliation can encourage the skin to retain lost moisture in the form of comedogenic oils. Well moisturized skin heals quicker than skin that’s stripped and dried out. This will really fight the extra dryness you’re experiencing and will help balance the texture of your skin.
- Moisturize Daily – Another important suggestion is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. When you wake up in the morning, apply your sunscreen. After the shower, apply moisturizer within a few minutes of getting out to help seal in moisture. Before going to bed, apply a moisturizer again so that your skin will stay hydrated throughout the night.
- Use Cuticle Oil – Cuticles tend to dry out the most, even if you moisturize your hands regularly. Applying a cuticle oil will help soften them and prevent cracks.
- Cosmetic Procedures – Fall is an ideal time for facial cosmetic procedures, because you will be out in the sun less. Also, if you decide to get cosmetic procedures done in the fall, you will look fresh and revamped for the holidays! Susan H Weinkle, MD offers many cosmetic procedures including fillers, Botox, and chemical peels. Please call the office to schedule your appointment (941) 794-5432.
- Up Your Water Intake – Changes in the climate can dry out your skin, especially when it starts to get cooler outside. Hydrated skin starts from within, so add some fruit into your water bottle for a more flavorful drink. This should encourage you to up your water intake.
Everyone knows the importance of wearing sunscreen. It protects your skin from sun burns which lead to skin cancer and premature aging. Although applying it to your skin is great, it will not work unless you apply it correctly. Here are some sunscreen application tips that are recommended by Susan H Weinkle, MD:
When shopping for sunscreen, you will definitely want to find one with broad spectrum coverage that is water resistant and has an SPF of at least 30. Broad spectrum coverage means that it protects you from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Generously apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure, and make sure you are using a sunscreen that is not expired. If you wait until you are already out in the sun to put the sunscreen on, you will be unprotected and can burn. Make sure to put the sunscreen over all exposed areas of your body. Don’t forget the tops of your feet, legs, scalp, ears, neck, and hands! If you cannot reach you back, ask someone to help. To protect your lips, wear a lip balm with at least SPF 15.
Once you have sunscreen on, you will need to reapply it every couple of hours and more often if you will be sweating or swimming. Your sunscreen bottle will indicate if it is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes. This means you will have to reapply after towel drying every 40 or 80 minutes in order to continue to be protected from the sun.
Wear your sunscreen every single day, regardless of season, time of day, or whether it is overcast outside. The sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays can still burn your skin!
If you follow these tips, you will significantly decrease your chances of getting skin cancer as well as premature aging and sagging skin.
Susan H Weinkle, MD offers two fantastic sunscreens at her office. Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ is a broad spectrum, 100% mineral sunscreen that is water resistant for 40 minutes. It also has repairing capabilities to reverse some already present actinic damage. The other sunscreen offered at Susan H Weinkle, MD’s office is called Color Science loose mineral sunscreen SPF 50. This sunscreen is also broad spectrum and is water resistant for 80 minutes. For more information or to purchase some, please stop by the office or give us a call. Our address and phone number are on the home page of our website.
- Exfoliate your skin daily. This will help to unclog your pores and will improve the way your moisturizers and other skin care products work. The sun is very dehydrating to our skin and it can actually affect the way our bodies are designed to protect us from its harmful rays. If you properly exfoliate your skin, you should notice improvement in your skin’s barrier function, and in turn will help your skin better prepare for high quality skin care products designed to keep your skin protected.
- Keep your skin hydrated. After exfoliating, you should use a lightweight gel-type moisturizer that will leave your skin feeling plump and supple, not heavy and greasy. Apply your moisturizers at night and in the morning. It might be time to reconsider what moisturizers you use during the summer time because in this heat and humidity, the last thing you want to do is apply a super heavy product that ends up clogging your pores and causing breakouts. For those of you who are prone to dry skin, you might be pleasantly surprised by switching to a lighter formulated moisturizer. When you come in for an appointment, ask Susan H. Weinkle, M.D. which type of moisturizer she recommends for you.
- Antioxidant serums are a wonderful way to protect your skin from the summer sun’s harmful UVA/UVB/Infrared rays. Susan H. Weinkle, M.D. recommends SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum, and it can be purchased here in her office. TNS Essential Serum actually repairs and restores your skin while you sleep.
- Wear sunscreen! Make sure that your sunscreen is SPF 50 or higher, and you’ll need to apply it every morning all over your body. If you will be spending any time outdoors, you will want to reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours throughout the day and into the early evening. Don’t forget the top of your head where your hair parts, your ears, hands, neck, and chest. This can be time consuming, but it’s better than getting skin cancer. Keep a small tube of sunscreen in your purse so that you’ll be prepared. Susan H. Weinkle, M.D. recommends Isdin Actinic Care Eryfotona Actinica sunscreen, which is also sold at her office. It not only protects you from the sun’s rays, but it also repairs previous actinic damage if applied twice daily.
- Susan H. Weinkle, M.D. also recommends that you wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with a UV rating when you’re outside. This is especially important during peak sun hours from 10 am to 2 pm.
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day. If you infuse it with lemons, herbs and fruit to enhance its effectiveness and absorption. Not only does the sun dehydrate your skin, but it also dehydrates the rest of your body as well. Stay ahead of the game by ensuring that you’re drinking adequate amounts of water each day.
- Trust your dermatologist! We are here to guide you to the most excellent skin care products and beauty routines to ensure you keep your skin nourished and gorgeous for life!
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