Early Detection

How Do I Check My Skin for Skin Cancer?

While prevention is crucial, the early detection of skin cancer holds equal importance. Regular skin examinations, including self-checks and professional evaluations by a dermatologist, are key in identifying skin cancer at an early stage, preventing it from growing or spreading further. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to check your skin for skin cancer.

Perform Regular Skin Self-Examinations

See a dermatologist for a complete skin exam before you begin head-to-toe self-exams to establish a baseline of “normal.” From that point on, you can watch for changes. A good time to do a monthly exam is before a shower or bath. If you have a partner, ask for help when checking hard-to-see areas like your back and scalp.

During a self-examination, carefully check your skin for symptoms such as unexplained itching, bleeding, or crusting, as well as any new lesions or spots. Should you notice anything concerning, promptly schedule a visit with a dermatologist.

Helpful Tips

  • Choose a day that is easy to remember when performing your exam, such as the first day of the month.
  • Pay close attention to the patterns and number of moles, freckles, and blemishes on your skin. This vigilance will enable you to monitor and detect any changes over the ensuing months effectively. Whenever feasible, document these observations with photographs for more accurate tracking.
  • Follow each of the steps below monthly, performing the exam consistently to ensure no part of your body is overlooked.
  • Select a location situated in a well-lit area, equipped with a full-length mirror. You will need a handheld mirror, a blow dryer, and a comfortable chair.

1. Your Tools: You will need a full-length mirror, a hand-held mirror, a blow dryer, a chair to sit on, and a well-lighted area.

2. Your Face: Carefully examine your face, especially your nose, lips, mouth, and ears – front and back.

3. Your Scalp: Thoroughly examine the entire surface of your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to expose each section to view.

4. Your Front Torso: Facing the full-length mirror, inspect your neck, chest, and abdomen. Women: check the skin underneath each breast. Lift your arms and check the sides of your upper body as well.

5. Your Back Torso: Face away from the full-length mirror, holding the handheld mirror. Examine your back, your shoulders, the back of your neck, and any other area you could not see from the front. From there, continue down your body and examine your buttocks and the backs of your thighs.

6. Your Lower Body: Sit on a chair and scan your legs using the handheld mirror to look at the back of each leg. Check the tops and soles of your feet, making sure to check your toenails and between your toes. Use the handheld mirror to check your genitals and the insides of your thighs.

Know Your ABCDEs

When doing a self-check for melanoma, there are certain features you can look for in your spots and moles. Two methods you can use are the Ugly Duckling Rule and the ABCDEs of melanoma.
To learn more about the ABCDEs of melanoma, click HERE>