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.
What Is a Skin Exam?
Your doctor or nurse may suggest that you do a regular skin self-exam to check for signs of skin cancer, including melanoma.
Suggestions for Examining the Skin
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.