How Are Chemical Peels Used in Actinic Keratosis Treatment?

Bumps on the skin are usually harmless, even if they can be cosmetically undesirable. But sometimes, a bump could be an actinic keratosis. This is a scaly, crusty bump that features rough, dry skin. An actinic keratosis can be very small or more than an inch across. Although these abnormalities aren’t painful, they can turn into skin cancer if they aren’t treated. One of the treatment options your dermatologist can recommend is a chemical peel.

Treatment Planning

Before deciding whether a chemical peel is the best option for you, you’ll have a consult with the dermatologist. First, the doctor will verify the diagnosis. A visual exam can usually confirm the presence of actinic keratoses, but you may also have a skin biopsy.

Chemical Peel Application

Chemical peels are a noninvasive way to aggressively exfoliate the skin cells that comprise the actinic keratoses. After confirming that you’re a good candidate for a chemical peel, your doctor will apply a thin layer of the solution to the lesions. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is often the chemical of choice for treating these bumps. The TCA solution is left on the lesion for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then, the doctor may apply a chemical neutralizing solution before cleansing the area.

Chemical Peel Recovery

It’s common for chemical peels to cause burning and stinging. This is temporary. You can relieve the discomfort by holding a handheld fan close to the skin to cool it, or by applying a cold compress. The dermatologist will give you instructions for caring for the treated area. You might be asked to apply petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment. During the following week, the treated area will begin to shed flaking skin.

Skin Protection

Patients who have just received chemical peels are advised to avoid all unnecessary sun exposure while the skin heals, and to apply sunscreen every two hours when outside the home. Since your chemical peel was to treat a precancerous lesion, protection from the cancer-causing sun is especially important.

You can schedule a checkup right away at Arlington Dermatology if you think you might have detected a precancerous or cancerous lesion. We offer a range of options for actinic keratosis and skin cancer treatment in Arlington Heights. Call us today at (847) 725-0824.


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