Photodynamic Therapy for actinic keratosis

We all love the sun in the Algarve, but excessive UV radiation can damage our skin. Due to its lack of self-protection, fair-skinned people are particularly at risk for skin changes caused by the sunlight and its UV radiation. The more we are exposed to over the years, the greater the risk of serious damage. The most common skin change caused by UV radiation is actinic keratosis (AK).

What is actinic keratosis (AK)?
It is a chronic damage to the so-called keratinocytes in the epidermis, in which excessive cell growth takes place – they change genetically due to long-term exposure to UV rays and grow in an uncontrolled manner. If not treated early, it will develop into a squamous cell carcinoma, which will spread throughout the body.

What therapy can be used to effectively treat AK?
With the help of the innovative photodynamic therapy (PDT) the most effective treatment method is available for mild to moderate AK. PDT is considered the first choice therapy option by European pharmaceutical authorities. It combines a specific red light source with a light-activated substance. The cancer-prone cells are specifically targeted and killed, while healthy tissue is spared. As a positive side effect for PDT, skin rejuvenation is achieved through the formation of new collagen in the dermis.

How does it work?
After cleaning and degreasing the affected skin areas, a special prescription gel is applied and covered with tin foil for 3 hours. After this incubation period, the affected skin is exposed to a red light source of 630 nm for seven minutes. During and shortly after PDT some pain can occur, which is caused by the targeted destruction of the diseased cells and is a sign of effectiveness of the therapy. PDT leads to inflammation and the regeneration of the skin, never leaving any scars; it’s highly effective and shows the highest healing rates in various clinical studies.

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