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Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. It affects both men and women, with fair-skinned, light-haired people having the greatest risk. As the weather warms up and you spend more time outside, follow these tips to protect yourself and prevent skin cancer.

Don’t Get Sunburned

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays and repeated sunburns are the primary causes of skin cancer. You can protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Seek the shade, especially when the sun is at its peak between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Cover up with pants, long sleeves, a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Avoid tanning, both outside and in tanning beds.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.

Perform Skin Cancer Self-Exams

More than a million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Luckily, this type of cancer can almost always be cured when caught early. The first tip for keeping on top of skin irregularities is to perform a skin cancer self-exam once a month.

Look for new moles or existing markings that change size, shape, texture or color. Also, be aware of unusual sores, bumps or blemishes, especially if they’re crusty, oozing, tender or itchy. Don’t worry – new moles are completely normal as long as they’re evenly colored and symmetrically shaped.

Here’s how to perform a skin cancer self-exam:

  • Check your face, chest, shoulders and arms, as well as your shins and the fronts of your thighs. Become familiar with the moles and markings here, as they are the most likely places for skin cancer to develop.
  • Examine your forearms, the backs and palms of your hands, and all sides of your fingers.
  • Check your lower back and buttocks, the backs of your legs, tops and bottoms of your feet, and in between your toes. Use a hand mirror if necessary.
  • Inspect the back of your neck, behind your ears and throughout your scalp, using a wall mirror and hand mirror as necessary

If you find anything that concerns you, schedule a skin cancer screening with a dermatologist.

What to Expect at a Skin Cancer Screening

While self-exams are useful, they aren’t a foolproof way to diagnose skin cancer. That’s why you should also schedule professional screenings at least once a year and at the first sign of strange growths, moles, sores or skin discoloration.

When you visit Arlington Dermatology for a skin cancer screening, you will change into a medical gown and sit or stand comfortably while a trained dermatologist conducts a full-body exam. You can point out any areas of concern you found during a self-exam. If necessary, your dermatologist will recommend a biopsy to determine whether it’s cancer.

The trained skin care experts at Arlington Dermatology provide routine screenings and skin cancer treatment in Rolling Meadows, IL. Whether it’s time for your yearly screening or you found a strange-looking mole, please contact us at (847) 725-0824 to schedule an appointment.