Actinic keratosis is a type of keratosis that is characterized by scaly and crusty lesions on the skin. These lesions are usually pink in color but they can range to red and shades of brown. This type of keratosis occurs in people of the older generation. It rarely occurs in children. Lesions of this kind are precancerous and you need proper medical attention. Actinic keratosis is caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful UV light.
Actinic keratosis has different signs and symptoms. For you to know that this is the type of keratosis that you are suffering from, you need to look out n these symptoms. There can be painful lesions on the skins. These lesions can be bumpy or flat. There can also be dry and cracked lesions on the skin. These lesions can be sore and painful and also pink, red or in shade of brown. Actinic keratosis can be discovered through self-examination where you will be able to see and feel these symptoms. It is also necessary to see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis. This is where histology comes in.
Histology of this keratosis is a study of the microscopic anatomy of the cells and tissues of your skin carried out by your dermatologist to check for any presence of actinic keratosis. This is done by the doctor mounting a thin slice of your skin tissue on an electron microscope to see the microscopic structure of the stain. For a better view and analysis, the process is conducted by the use of histological stain.
A dermatologist does not have to use histology or biopsy to know that you have acquired actinic keratosis. Histology is mostly used when the lesions are hypertrophic or are thick just to make sure that it is not cancer of the skin.
With histology, your dermatologist will see a proliferation that is non-invasive, of atypical crowded keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are cells in the skin that produce keratin- a structural protein for the outer layer of the skin. Atypical keratinocytes are only found in the epidermis and not the dermis -lower layer of the skin.
In conclusion, histology is not a necessary tool in diagnosing actinic keratosis but if you want to make sure that you do not have squamous cell carcinoma- a type of skin cancer, you can ask your dermatologist to perform this on you to differentiate this actinic keratosis from skin cancer.
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