Continuing on the thread of the last blog, this week’s blog will discuss what some signs of skin cancer are. Many of these can be caught at home but you should still go for your yearly skin cancer check with your dermatologist since she is trained to notice the smallest change and can look where you can’t, like on your back. One of the things your dermatologist might find during your skin cancer screening is an Actinic Keratosis. These are small areas of skin that have been damaged by the UV rays of the sun. The damage shows itself as rough patches of slightly scaly skin. They can be red, pink or tan. They are generally small and on areas of skin most frequently exposed to the sun such as your face, neck, arms and hands. They are most frequently seen on fair skinned people who have a history of severe sunburns or prolonged sun exposure. A small percentage of AKs develop into skin cancer so it is best to have them removed. Your dermatologist will remove them for you. The most common method of removal is cryosurgery. He or she will use liquid nitrogen and basically freeze them off. Pain is minimal and it quickly heals. It’s a simple procedure which can avoid the risk of skin cancer developing. The best way to avoid getting them in the first place is to take the precaution of covering up appropriately, using sun screen and limiting sun exposure.