Why Is My Skin Turning Scaly?

It can be a stressful and disturbing experience to see something resembling reptile scales pop up on an area of your once-smooth skin. Are you turning into a fish? Did you wander onto the set of a sci-fi film shoot or spin into an episode of the Twilight Zone? While your brain can come up with silly reasons all day long, dry, scaly, rough-looking skin has a myriad of causes that are grounded in reality. One that we treat often in our offices is a dermatological disease called actinic keratosis.

What is actinic keratosis?

As with many dermatological issues, actinic keratosis is caused by years of sun exposure. It typically pops up on your forearms, face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, or on the backs of your hands, since these are the areas that are typically hit with UV rays the hardest. The lesions, which take years to develop, typically don’t come with any other symptoms than a small patch of scaly skin. Occasionally the patch will have a burning, itching, or tingling sensation. In rare cases, actinic keratosis can eventually become skin cancer, which is why it needs to be checked by your dermatologist immediately!

How will my dermatologist treat actinic keratosis?

There are many ways to treat actinic keratosis. Here at Old Bridge Dermatology, we will assess your skin and discuss the proper form of treatment. That method will include one or a combination of the following:

  • Topical medication – there are many gels or creams that can help treat actinic keratosis.
  • Cryotherapy – lesions or growths can be crystalized with liquid nitrogen, then peeled. New skin will grow in its place.
  • Photodynamics – light therapy can help eliminate any patchy areas on the skin.
  • Resurfacing – lasers can remove outer layers of the epidermis to encourage healthy new skin growth.
  • Chemical peels – your doctor can help release healthy skin cells by using a caustic chemical solution to remove your upper epidermis layer.

If you ever notice any skin change or growth, it’s important to check in as soon as possible with an experienced skincare professional. Here at Old Bridge Dermatology, our dermatologist, Dr. Juan Vaillant, can help you address your acne, or any other skin, nail, or hair issue you are experiencing. To schedule an appointment at our convenient Old Bridge, NJ office, call us today at 732-679-0222.