Category Archives: Skin Disease

Skin Health and Conditions: Actinic Keratosis

Characteristics of Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis, commonly abbreviated as AK, is the presence of rough small patches and spots on the skin, which usually develop because of long-term exposure to sun. The size of AK usually ranges between 2 and 6 millimeter in diameter, which is comparable to the size of a ballpoint pen up to the size of a small eraser. They can easily be recognized because the patch is rough, scaly and reddish in color, while the top has yellowish to whitish spots.  Also known as solar keratosis, AK is hard to touch, and there is a tingling and prickling pain when pressure is applied to it. Although the skin is commonly affected, AK can also be present in other parts of the body, such as the lips, around the neck, scalps, the lower portion of the ear, and the back fo the hands and forearms.

Actinic Keratosis Is A Pre-cancer Warning Sign

Development of AKs is considered as an early sign of skin cancer, because if left untreated, it can eventually advance into squamous cell carcinoma (also known as SCC), one of the most common types of skin cancer. It should be noted, though, that only a small percentage of those with AKs had eventually advanced into the SCC stage. What increases the risk of an individual with AK to have skin cancer is his exposure to direct sunlight for a long period of time.

Who Are At Risk For Developing Actinic Keratosis?

  • People who are working outdoors and are usually exposed to extreme heat of the sun
  • People who had numerous cases of severe sunburns in the past
  • People with fair skin complexion, red or blonde hair, and green or blue eyes
  • Older people with weakened immune system
  • People who are taking immunosuppressant medications

What Are The Notable Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis?

  • Appearance of lesions usually starts with changes in skin color and characteristics; begin as scaly and flat.
  • Growth of patches starts from gray, white and pink to, yellowish and red. The hardness of the patch is similar to a wart.
  • Sometimes the areas with lesions are not visible, but the hardness and tingling pain are easier to feel.

Remember That Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure

  • Never go outdoors without proper skin protection, especially during hot seasons and under extreme sunlight.
  • Since sun exposure is the main cause of AKs, avoid direct sunlight if possible at all.
  • If on a beach, apply sunscreen lotion that effectively blocks ultraviolet rays.
  • If working outdoors, always wear adequate clothing – such as long sleeves, large hats and pants.

Related Video on Actinic Keratosis:

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“Actinic Keratosis.” Skin Cancer. Retrieved online on August 18, 2014 from

“Actinic Keratosis Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved online on August 18, 2014 from

Contact Dermatitis

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First Aid Training Room

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin inflammation (eczema) that occurs when particular substances touch the skin causing an irritation or an allergic reaction. These substances are not necessarily irritants or allergens that are high in chemicals but every day resources causing red, itchy rashes. Bacterial infection is the most common complication from contact dermatitis. Although contact dermatitis cannot be passed from person to person or fatal, it can cause great discomfort to an individual, thus, application of first aid is necessary to relieve of symptoms.

Types and Causes of Contact Dermatitis

There are two different types of contact dermatitis, irritant and allergic, each with different ways of causing a reaction in the body. The latter involves the body’s immune system, whereas the former does not.

  • Irritant dermatitis (more common): skin reacts to an irritant that comes into direct contact with the skin
    • Acids
    • Materials that contain alkaline such as soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, and other chemicals
    • Shampoos
    • Hair dyes
    • Cement
    • Prolonged exposure to wet diapers
    • Rubber gloves
    • Pesticides and weed killer
  • Allergic dermatitis: reaction to an exposure to a substance causing an allergic reaction
    • Rubber or latex gloves or shoes
    • Certain metals found in jewelleries, buttons, etc., such as nickels
    • Nail polish
    • Adhesives
    • Particular fabrics and clothing
    • Fragrances found in cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, etc.
    • Certain antibiotics
    • Poison ivy, oak, sumac and other plants containing urushiol

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

Initial exposure to any of the substances may not show any symptoms but prolonged or repeated use may cause sensitivity and lead to reaction. Other products only cause a reaction upon exposure to sunlight. Moreover, symptoms will differwith the type and cause and may vary from person to person. The following symptoms are commonly associated with contact dermatitis:

  • Itching in the exposed area
  • Irritant dermatitis
    • Dry, red, and rough skin
    • Painful
    • Burning sensation
    • Skin cuts
  • Allergic dermatitis, red streaks or patches in the exposed area
    • Moist, weeping blisters that ooze and then crust over
    • Scaly, thickened skin
    • Warm and tender

Treatment and Management for Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can be managed at home even without medical help. Without complications, contact dermatitis fades away within 2-3 weeks. Some cases of contact dermatitis do not require treatment at all, however, if symptoms are giving discomfort, administer first aid to provide relief. To treat and manage contact dermatitis:

  • Wash the affected area with copious amounts of water to remove any leftover trace of the irritant that may still be present on the skin.
  • Applying topical moisturizers may help retain skin moisture.
  • Applying corticosteroid skin creams or ointments may help limit inflammation
  • To further reduce symptoms, place wet dressings or antipruritic lotions.
  • It is necessary to identify the irritant or allergen to avoid any further exposure.

To learn more about how to treat and manage contact dermatitis and other skin conditions, enrol in First Aid Courses.

Milia Treatment


Milia is characterized by the appearance of tiny white cyst like formation on the skin. It is seen to occur in people of all age. Milia are formed when keratin is trapped in the outer layer of the skin, thus forming a cyst. These cyst starts from the base of a hair follicle or sweat gland.

Milia can be primary or secondary. When the keratin is entrapped under the skin and milia is formed, and then it is called primary milia. Primary milia are seen on the faces of adults and infants. Secondary milia occur when something clogs the ducts leading to the surface of the skin. Such condition occurs after an injury, blistering of the skin or after suffering from a burn. Primary and secondary milia look similar.

Who’s At Risk?

Milia is seen to occur to people of all ages, ethnicity and gender. They are very common among new born babies. Secondary milia appear on the skin of people who have had the following condition.

  • – Skin condition such as bullous pemphigoid, epidermolysis bullosa and porphyria cutanea tarda which results in blistering of the skin.
  • – People who have suffered from burns
  • – Chronic skin damage due to sun exposure
  • – Long term use of steroid creams

Signs and Symptoms:

Milia usually occurs as 1–2 mm dome-shaped bumps that are white- yellow in color and are not painful or itchy. Primary milia mostly occurs in the following area:

  • – around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead.
  • – in infants they also occur on the gums, palates insure the mouth. Around 85% infants go through this condition. It is known as Epstein’s pearls.

Secondary milia can occur anywhere in the body, particularly on the areas of the body that have had too much sun exposure.

Self-Care Guidelines

Primary milia that is mostly found in infants do heal on its own. But, it may take several weeks to heal on its own. The milia occurring in adults last longer.
Do not try to attempt to remove the milia from the outer layer of the skin on your own. It may leave a scar which itself can take a while to heal.

When to Seek Medical Care

If these bumps drastically increase in number or if they look cosmetically unappealing, consult a dermatologist or your general physician for evaluation.

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

For the occurrence of milia in infants, no treatment is necessary. It will heal on its own in due course. In adults, milia may or may not go away on its own. It can be recurring as well. Your doctor may treat you with any of the following methods:

  • – Each milia bumps is pierced with a sterile scalpel and the tiny cyst is removed with a tool called comedone extractor.
  • – He may prescribe you topical retinoid cream such as tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene.
  • – Acid peels or microdermabrasion procedures can also be administered by the doctor.