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Performing a regular skin exam is one of the best ways to check for and prevent various forms of skin cancer, including melanoma. The best time is after a shower or bath. Use a full-length and handheld mirror to thoroughly examine your skin from head to toe. If you find anything unusual, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor or nurse may suggest that you do a regular skin self-exam to check for signs of skin cancer, including melanoma.
The best time to perform a skin exam is after a shower or bath. You should check your skin in a room with plenty of light, and you should use a full-length mirror and a handheld mirror. Begin by learning where your birthmarks, moles, and other marks are and their usual look and feel.
Check for anything new, 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 new flesh-colored firm bump
- A change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole
- A sore that does not heal.
Check yourself from head to toe, including:
- Your back, scalp, genital area, and between your buttocks.
- Your face, neck, ears, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so that you can see better. You also may want to have a relative or friend check through your hair. It may be hard to check your scalp by yourself.
- 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.
- The back, front, and sides of your legs.
- Your feet, including your toenails, your soles, and the spaces between your toes.