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acneAcne is the bane of every teenager, but it can also persist well into adulthood. Actinic keratosis isn’t something teenagers give a second’s thought, while adults need to keep an eye on them. Despite their differences in age and development, we use photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat both moderate acne and actinic keratosis at the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery.

What is an actinic keratosis?

The ultraviolet rays of the sun are no friends of human skin. A precursor to skin cancer, actinic keratosis is a skin lesion that forms as a result of prolonged sun exposure. These growths usually appear as rough (like sandpaper), red patches occurring on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, arms, and hands. Patients often say their actinic keratosis “gets worse in the sun.” While not life-threatening, if left untreated actinic keratosis growths can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, one of the three types of skin cancer.

What causes acne?

Acne has nothing to do with what a person eats; it is all about the sebaceous glands. These glands, located at the base of the hair follicles, are responsible for secreting the oil that keeps our skin and hair moisturized. In puberty, and in some people during adulthood, these glands overproduce oil, and the glands become clogged. The bacteria that naturally exist in the glands then begin to overproduce. This causes an inflammatory response in the body, resulting in a breakout.

What is photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy utilizes light energy to destroy the abnormal pre-cancerous cells that form actinic keratosis and to kill the bacteria responsible for acne.

How does photodynamic therapy work?

The PDT procedure involves three steps. First, a topical sensitizer is applied to the skin. This is left on the skin for one to three hours, known as the “incubation period.” After the incubation period, the photo sensitizer is activated by the wavelengths of a blue light source. During this 15-minute activation period, patients may feel a tingling or warm sensation. Afterward, the area is treated with an emollient cream.

At the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery, we’ve had great success with our PDT treatments for removing actinic keratosis and reducing acne outbreaks. Call us at 503-297-3440 to make your appointment.