Offering Annual Skin Exams For Early Detection

Precancerous skin lesions, formally known as actinic keratosis (AK), or solar keratosis are the most common form of precancerous skin lesions. Actinic keratosis is caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and/or tanning beds. These types of precancerous skin lesions can potentially develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Actinic keratosis begins to form in people over the age of 40 usually on skin areas that are most exposed to sunlight.


Identifying Precancerous Skin Lesions

Complexions Dermatology of Danville and Colonial Heights, Virginia, believes that early detection is one of the best tools to help minimize the impact of serious health ramifications related to untreated or progressive skin cancers. We encourage patients to become familiar with their skin and inspect it about once a month for changes or new freckles or moles. Becoming familiar with your skin will help you recognize any changes that may occur and increase the likelihood of positive treatment outcomes.

If you are wondering how to identify precancerous skin lesions, the providers at Complexions Dermatology can help. Actinic keratosis has a wide range of appearances, including:

  • Dry, rough, scaly patches of skin usually less than 1 inch in diameter
  • Color variations from pink, red to brown
  • A patch of skin that bleeds easily or is easily irritated and has trouble healing
  • An area of skin that oozes or crusts over continually

Diagnosing and Treating Precancerous Skin Lesions

Oftentimes, it may be difficult to determine if a skin lesion is precancerous or cancerous, and therefore your doctor may recommend a biopsy of the lesion. A small portion of the lesion will be sent to the lab for further study. Complexions Dermatology can help you determine the next steps in your treatment for actinic keratosis.

Several procedures can treat actinic keratosis. Once it is determined that you have a precancerous skin lesion, your doctor may suggest that it is small enough to watch for the time being or that it should be removed. Treatment options include:

  • Medications – there are several topical medications (creams and/or gels) that can be applied to the skin lesion to treat it.
  • Cryotherapy – liquid nitrogen may be applied to the lesions to “freeze” them off. This quick office procedure may take a few days to heal, and eventually, the skin will scab over and slough off, exposing new skin below.
  • Curettage – scraping the skin with a specialized tool called a curet, often combined with electrosurgery, can be an effective way to treat the lesion.

Call us today at our Danville location (434) 792-0423 or our Colonial Heights location (804) 805-8442 to schedule your consultation at Complexions Dermatology.


The Skin Cancer Foundation states that actinic keratoses indicate previous sun damage and have them increases your risk for developing skin cancer. Early detection with action is the key to achieving a cure for precancerous and cancerous skin lesions. See your dermatologist if you suspect any mole, sunspot or lesion on your skin has changed. Your dermatologist will provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate treatment for you. Always protect yourself in the sun by wearing sunblock with an SPF of at least 30, wearing clothing to prevent excessive sun exposure and seek shade when possible.

Complexions Dermatology of Danville and Colonial Heights, Virginia, is pleased to provide annual skin checks for patients to monitor for precancerous or cancerous skin lesions. To prevent skin cancer, we recommend seeing your dermatologist once a year to monitor moles, freckles and sunspots and use precaution when you are in the sun. Taking an active role in your skincare will increase the chances of early detection and getting the right diagnosis and treatment, if necessary.

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