Check your skin for signs of cancer

A regular skin self-exam is the best way to look for early signs of skin cancer so you can alert your doctor, Harvard Medical School reports.

By checking your skin regularly, you’ll learn what is normal for you and can more easily note skin changes and abnormalities that require attention.

The best time to check your skin is after a shower or bath, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Skin Care and Repair. Use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror in a room with plenty of light.

Follow these steps to check yourself from head to toe:

• Look at your face, neck, ears, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so you can see better. It may be hard to check your scalp by yourself, so you have a relative or friend check through your hair.

• Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Then, raise your arms and look at your left and right sides. Bend your elbows. Look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides), and upper arms.

• Check the back, front, and sides of your legs. Also check the skin all over your buttocks and genital area.

• Sit and closely examine your feet, including your toenails, the soles of your feet, and the spaces between your toes.

• Learn where your moles are and their usual look and feel. Check for anything different, such as: a new mole (that looks different from your other moles); a new red or darker-colored flaky patch that may be a little raised; a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole; a sore that doesn’t heal; or a new flesh-colored firm bump.

• Write down the dates of your skin self-exams and make notes about the way your skin looks on those dates. You may find it helpful to take photos to help check for changes over time. If you notice anything unusual, consult your doctor.

More brain injuries in elderly from falls

U.S. government researchers say elderly people are suffering brain injuries from falls at what appear to be an unprecedented rate, The Associated Press reports.

The reason for the increase isn’t certain, according to the new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But one likely factor is that a growing number of elderly people are living at home and taking repeated tumbles.

Whatever the cause, the numbers are striking: One in every 45 Americans 75 and older suffered brain injuries that resulted in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths in 2013. The rate for that age group jumped 76 percent from 2007. The rate of these injuries for people of all ages rose about 50 percent over that time, hitting a record level.

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