PDT: Manage Your Skin Damage Now
It’s PDT time! No, not Pacific Daylight Time, though that will be upon us soon. In dermatology, PDT stands for Photodynamic Therapy. But it could just as well stand for Pretty Darn Terrific, because this effective, low-risk outpatient treatment is one of the best ways to head off squamous cell skin cancer. Because PDT requires strict avoidance of visible light–whether from sunlight or bright interior lights–for 48 hours before and after treatment, this is the ideal time of year to schedule Photodynamic Therapy.
Who Needs PDT?
PDT has a variety of applications in dermatology, but today we’re talking about its use in the elimination of the precancerous lesions known as actinic keratoses (AKs). AKs, which are more common in light-complexioned people with a higher tendency to sunburn, are spots of UV-damaged skin. They appear as reddish, brown, or tan bumps on frequently exposed skin such as the face, lips, scalp, and hands. The lesions may scale or crust over, and they don’t heal or go away by themselves. Untreated AKs have a high potential to become cancerous–and there’s no way to predict whether that development will be swift or slow.
What Is Photodynamic Therapy?
PDT uses a combination of a topical solution and exposure to blue light to destroy the damaged cells that make up AKs. The solution, Levulan Kerastick, is applied directly to the areas of skin damage. As it is absorbed into the skin’s layers, the solution forms a chemical that makes the damaged areas particularly sensitive to light. Then the patient (wearing eye protection) is exposed to BLU-U blue light for about 17 minutes. The blue light targets the sensitized areas and destroys them, leaving healthy surrounding skin unaffected and clearing the way for healthy new cell growth.
The most common side effects of PDT are stinging, burning, and peeling at the treatment site, similar to the effects of a bad sunburn. To avoid or minimize these effects, the patient must avoid exposure to visible light for 48 hours before and after treatment. That means covering up completely when you have go outside, and keeping the lights low inside. Sunscreens are not effective protection against the light sensitivity PDT creates.
The PDT Bonus
In addition to its cancer-prevention power, Photodynamic Therapy leaves skin healthier and younger looking. And unlike many cosmetic treatments, PDT for the destruction of precancerous lesions is a medical procedure covered by most health insurance plans. To learn more about PDT and actinic keratoses, and to see a video about the treatment, click here. And contact us today to learn whether you are a candidate for PDT, or to find out more about its uses in treating acne and rosacea and in cosmetic rejuvenation.
Manage your skin damage today, before the clock springs ahead!