Interview transcription:

We interviewed Dr Penelope Pratsou to learn about the conditions actinic keratoses and Bowen’s disease. 

What are the conditions known as actinic keratoses and Bowen’s disease?

Penelope Pratsou: Actinic keratosis and Bowen’s disease are conditions that occur as a result of sun damage. What you might notice is, in both conditions, scaly red patches on sun-exposed areas; whether that’s on the face, the ears, the scalp, the backs of the hands or commonly, on the lower legs. These can be completely painless and not cause any symptoms, or sometimes it can be itchy or sore. I tend to really group them together and call them sun damage because, essentially, that’s what they are. 

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What are the causes?

Penelope Pratsou: Actinic keratoses and Bowen’s disease tend to occur more in people with quite fair skin and as a result of long-term sun exposure. Whether that’s through having worked outdoors or because you have lots of hobbies outdoors and sometimes as a result of having lived for a very long time. These conditions are usually seen in middle-aged people onwards. You essentially just get  changes in the cells in the top layers of the skin which can result in this appearance. These changes can put you at a slightly increased risk for certain types of skin cancer, particularly the one called squamous cell carcinoma. However, essentially they are a marker for having had a bit more sunshine than you ought to have and a matter of making sure that you keep a close eye on your skin.

If you have any of the symptoms or conditions that we’ve just discussed, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr Penelope Pratsou where she’ll be able to assess your condition and give you a suitable treatment plan.

About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.