More individuals have become aware of the risk of skin cancers within the last few years. This is why it is important for individuals to know what types of disorders are out there and how to recognize them in case someone is inflicted with a skin ailment.

Often referred to as “KA” by dermatologist and other doctors, keratoacanthomas is a skin disorder that is characterized by its round and firm appearance. It may be red or pink in color, but is usually flesh colored. The growths have a center that contains keratin which is a type of protein found in hair and nails. This protein helps to keep your nails hard so that they don’t break. The center of the growth is usually scaly or crusted. They are a common skin growth and are often benign.

Who Can Get Them?

Keratoacanthomas can be developed by anyone. Older and light-skinned individuals are the most likely individuals to develop the condition.

What Can Cause Them?

Prolonged exposure to the sun is one of the primary causes of keratocanthoma. Individuals who have contact with coal tar may also develop the condition.

How Does It Happen?

The condition results when the cells in the hair follicles grow abnormally. It also appears to be connected to a previous injury or trauma site on the skin. It could be a bump, bruise or scrape that has been exposed to the sun previously.

Where Do They Appear?

Usually the condition is found on the face, forearms, back of the hands and on the legs.

What Are The Symptoms?

Keratocanthomas generally start out small, but they do grow rapidly. Over a period of one to two months they can grow close to one or two cm. They will usually stop growing after two or three months if they aren’t treated by a dermatologist and after three to six months they will begin to shrink. After six months they will completely disappear, but may leave behind a scar. Although these numbers are just an average, each individual presents a different case and the time frame can vary.

How Can It Be Diagnosed?

It is best to visit the doctor once you develop these skin lesions. A doctor will perform a skin examination and take your medical history. The doctor may also take a piece of skin to examine. This is called a biopsy and it is done to make sure the growth isn’t cancerous. At times the condition can resemble other forms of skin cancers so it is always important to have them checked out by a doctor.

What Treatments Are Available?

Removal of the growth is the first option using a procedure called cryotherapy. The growth is frozen with liquid nitrogen and the growth dries up as a result causing a scab to form over the area. The scar is then scraped off or cut out from the skin. The procedure can be done during an office visit to a dermatologist and is usually painless.

A doctor may opt to prescribe a topical five percent fluorouracil during the first six weeks. This cream should be applied three times a day. The cream has been found to be an effective way to treat the skin growths early. After the crust has been removed a twenty-five percent benzoin cream may be used. This cream needs to be applied for two weeks and should be used only under supervision from a doctor.

Another effective treatment is the use of 5-fluorouracil injections. They are performed at the site of the skin growth. This treatment is typically used for growths that are in the later stages.

Skin growths that are larger than normal or in areas that are difficult to treat may be treated with radiotherapy. This is the use of radiation to remove or shrink the skin growth.

Even if a skin growth doesn’t look serious, it is best to visit a doctor and have them look at it. You will be more likely to prevent serious long-term damage if you start treatment earlier.

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