A lichen planus-like keratosis is a precancerous skin growth caused by sun damage. They are sometimes difficult to see, they feel rough to the touch and are sometimes scaly.
They are not in themselves skin cancer, but if left untreated they can turn into cancer over time, and as such need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
What cause lichen planus-like keratosis?
Repeated, prolonged sun exposure causes skin damage which may develop into a lichen planus-like keratosis. This is not to be confused with the benign version of this condition, discussed elsewhere on the site.
The sun damage responsible for these keratoses usually occurred years before the lesion forms, as is the case with most pre-cancerous growths on the skin.
LPLK typically affects adults over 30, and both males and females equally. As with most precancerous growths, fair-skinned individuals are much more prone than those with dark skin.
What are the treatment options for these growths?
Lichen planus-like keratoses can be removed by surgery or by freezing with liquid nitrogen.
Sometimes dermatologists are not sure whether the growth is a in fact LPLK or an early cancer. Whenever there is doubt, your doctor will cut the growth off and send it for microscopic analysis (biopsy). Healing after removal usually takes one to two weeks and leaves a flat white scar.
Can this condition be prevented?
The above treatments do not prevent new growth from forming in the future. Daily sunscreen use (SPF 15 or higher) will help some, but as we mentioned most of the damage causing these growths occurred many years prior to development.
The best prevention for all skin related conditions, especially pre-cancerous ones, is to make sure you are not exposed to the sun for any length of time without proper protection. In addition to lotions and creams, protective clothing and hats are always recommended, especially during the times of the day where the sun is strongest.