The previous article introduced the most basic information about Bowen’s Disease. This is the second part to give you more knowledge about this skin problem.
Who is affected?
Bowen’s disease is more common in women than in men, and typically affects people in their 60s and above. It is also identified on people who have had lots of sun exposure, especially those with fair skin.
Those who take medication to suppress their immune system also tend to be more affected.
How can it be diagnosed?
Bowen’s disease is diagnosed by taking a sample of skin called biospy by a dermatologist.
A local anaethetic is given to numb the area and a small part of the affected skin is removed. The sample is then sent to the laboratory and looked at under a microscope.
What causes Bowen’s disease?
This skin problem does not run in families and you are not passed it on from an affected person.
One of the main reasons cause Bowen’s disease is too much sun exposure over a long time. Having radiotherapy also puts you at increased risk of developing Bowen’s disease in the affected area. It is occasionally also able to affect the genital area and usually linked with a common type of virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Other causes consist of arsenic, immunosuppression, chronic skin injury, and other dermatoses.
The disease is neither infectious, nor due to an allergy.
What is its treatment?
Your dermatologist can take into consideration a number of treatment options based on your health of skin, the location of the patch, the size, thickness and number of patches you have before making the most appropriate decision.
Some treatments include:
– Cryotherapy: The doctor can use liquid nitrogen spraying onto the affected area to freeze it. The treated skin may blister and weep. Afterwards, you will have a scab which usually falls off withing a few weeks.
– Creams or Topical therapy: You will need regularly put the cream onto the affected area over a period of time. It will make your skin to become red and inflamed before it gets better.
– Curettage and Electrocautery: The affected skill will be scraped away under local anaesthetic, and heat or electricity is used to stop any bleeding, leaving the area to scab over and heal after a few weeks. This treatment option is suitable for small patches of Bowen’s disease.
– Photodynamic therapy or PDT in short: It will take you from 20 to 45 minutes as accepting this treatment. A light-sensitive cream is applied to the affected skin, and a laser is directed onto the skin four to six hours later, to destroy the abnormal cells. It can be useful for people with large areas of this disease.
– Surgery: Even though this is not considered as the best option for large patches or several patches on skin, it is still able to be applied for small areas that can be removed under local anaesthetic.
– Laser treatment: It is sometimes used as a treatment by intense light energy for Bowen’s disease affecting the finger or genitals.
What are follow-up appointments after treatment?
You may need regular check-ups after treatment with your dermatologist to see if you need any further treatment.
If you are treated with surgery option to remove the patch, followed by stitches, you may need to have the stitches removed a few weeks later.
If your patch bleed, change in appearance or have a new lump developing, immediately contact your doctor.