Is Lichenoid Keratosis A Serious Condition?
Lichenoid keratosis is a skin condition which affects a great number of people, although it can not really be called common. To answer the question as to how serious a condition it can be, the condition, while often referred to by dermatologist as a precancer, is almost always benign, and not malignant.
What Is Keratosis? - To better understand just what lichenoid keratosis is, let's break down the works making up this condition. Keratosis is a class if skin conditions which are typified by an excess build up of keratin. This build up may take several forms. At times the build up consists of small bumps of dry skin, in other cases the symptoms are scaly patches, and at times the keratosis manifests itself as an inflamed area of the skin, or an open lesion. Some types of keratosis are more serious than others, though in most instances a malignancy is not present. Incidents of keratosis are often referred to as being precancerous, and whenever the dead skin or scales are removed, they are often sent in for a biopsy to verify that no cancer is present. This is done because there are skin conditions which can be malignant, and in many cases resemble or mimic the more benign symptoms of keratosis.
What Is Keratin? - Keratin is a major component of our skin, hair, nails, and teeth. It is a protein formed by a combination of amino acids. Keratin in some instances is very hard, such as that found in our hair and nails, and in other instances soft and flexible, where it is a major component of our skin. Keratin is a living cell which is pushed towards the surface of the skin, or the surface of hair or nails. As it reaches the surface it dies. When you look at someone, or at your own hand for example, what you are really seeing is a mass of dead skin. The dead skin does not go deep, there are living keratin cells just beneath the surface, but the surface it self is dead, though perhaps only a few molecules deep.
And Lichenoid? - Certain skin disorders can result in the number of dead cells piling up with the result that a small area of skin may form a dry or scaly bump or patch. This is a type of keratosis, of which there are several types. One of the types is lichenoid keratosis, which gets tits name from the scales of dead keratin, which resemble patches of lichen, the scaly plants found on rocks and trees. You won't notice these lichen-like patches as they are microscopic in size, yet they are present in lichenoid keratosis and not present in other types of keratosis.
Symptoms - Under normal circumstances, the dead keratin cells perform a useful function, that of protecting the live cells that lie just beneath. It is only when the dead cells are allowed to accumulate, or are being produced at too fast a rate, that one of the several types of keratosis may occur. The symptom of lichenoid keratosis is an inflamed area surrounding a lesion. Most cases of lichenoid keratosis involve only a single lesion, but occasionally a person may have 2 or three affected lesions on the skin. The lesions almost always appear on an area of skin that is either not protected or poorly protected from the sun. It affects mostly middle aged adults or the elderly with the average age being in the late 50's. This disorder appears to be more common in women, perhaps by a 4 to 1 ration over men, but the statistics tend to vary considerably from clinic to clinic, and there are few hard statistics which give an indication as to what percentage of the over all population has been affected with this disorder.
Treatment - There are several topical creams available used to treat the condition, most of which require a prescription, and most of which contain a corticosteroid as the primary active ingredient. In some instances a lichenoid keratosis lesion is treated with liquid nitrogen, while in other instances it may be surgically removed through electro or laser surgery.