Who hasn’t heard advice from professionals to do a self skin examination on a regular basis? But how many realize how often or how thoroughly this should be carried out? The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a self skin examination on a monthly basis and provides guidelines for doing it. During this exam, you should be looking for moles that have changed rapidly, look different from the rest, have uneven borders or colors, itch, bleed or scale.
Your best tools are both a full-length and a hand-held mirror, two stools or chairs and good light. A methodical approach should begin at the top of your body, starting with your face. Using mirrors will allow you to see all sides of your face, and you need to especially note your nose, lips, mouth and ears. A check of your entire scalp can be done with a blow dryer, parting the hair to view the skin.
Next, a careful examination of both sides of your hands, followed by checking between the fingers and even under the nails, should continue beyond the wrists, looking over your forearms, top and bottom sides.
Now it’s back to your reflection in the glass as you stand at the large mirror and check uppers arms as well as underarms. As you reach the shoulders, pay attention to the neck, then the chest and the rest of the torso. Breasts that crease the skin and create a fold should be lifted for a clear view of the undersides.
Using the hand mirror, face away from the full-length mirror and check out your back from neck to buttocks, including upper arms. Then continue down your body examining the backs of both legs.
Finally, take a seat and prop up one leg, then the other, carefully looking over the fronts and sides, starting at the top of the thigh and going all the way to the ankle. Turn your leg to view all around the ankle, then move on to the foot, including between the toes and around the nails. Don’t miss taking a look at the bottom of your foot and all around your heel. While still seated, employ the hand mirror to check your genitals.
While the self skin examination is a respected tool toward maintaining your well being, an annual consultation with us is recommended. If your monthly at-home exams reveal any concerns or raise any questions, call us to schedule a professional evaluation.