How To Perform a Self-Skin Check

A young woman looking at mirror and examines her skin, touching

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.3 million new cases diagnosed each year. The good news is that skin cancer is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer if detected early. During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, our dermatology professionals want to equip you with one of the best ways to observe possible signs of skin cancer. Self-exams are a quick, simple way to monitor your skin health and possibly save your life.

How To Do a Self-Skin Cancer Exam

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends checking your skin from head to toe once a month. Begin your self-exam in a well-lit room with a full-length mirror, hand mirror, chair, and a notepad or phone. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and examine your entire body, front and back, jotting down any observations or capturing photos of any concerning moles, growths, spots, or sores

  1. Examine your face and ears using the mirror.
  2. Inspect your scalp by sectioning any hair and looking in the mirror. If you can, consider having a family member help. Using a blow dryer to move your hair and see your scalp may be helpful for long hair. 
  3. Check your hands, including the palms, backs, fingernails, and in between each finger. 
  4. Scan your arms, looking at all sides in front of the full-length mirror. Remember your underarms. 
  5. Inspect your torso, neck, chest, and under your breasts or creases.
  6. Scan your upper back, shoulders, and upper arms using the full-length mirror and the hand mirror.
  7. Scan the lower back, buttocks, and backs of your legs using both mirrors.
  8. Inspect your legs in a seated position. Prop your leg up to observe the front and sides of both legs. Use the hand mirror to inspect the genitals. Lastly, check your ankles, feet, toes, and toenails. 

Create a habit of monthly self-skin checks to help you to become familiar with your skin and spot any changes early. Consider setting a calendar alarm for a specific day each month to do your self-exam after getting out of the shower. If you see something new, changing, or unusual, schedule a skin exam with one of our dermatology professionals immediately. Early detection is the key to successful treatment of skin cancer.

Schedule an Exam with Our Dermatology Professionals

The team at Anne Arundel Dermatology is committed to providing our patients with the highest quality dermatology care. We offer comprehensive skin health services, including skin cancer screenings, mole removal, MOHS surgery, and cosmetic dermatology.

To schedule an appointment, visit our locations page to find a dermatology office near you. 

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