It is important to examine your skin every month, to help find melanoma at an early stage. Get to know the pattern of moles, spots, freckles, and other marks on your skin. This helps you recognize any changes.
One way to do this is to stand in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror along with the full mirror, for areas that are hard to see. Examine all areas of your body, including the lower back, buttocks, back of shoulders, and backs of the thighs.
Any unusual sore, lump, spot, marking, or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of skin cancer, or a warning that it might develop.
The skin might become scaly or crusty or it may ooze and bleed. It may feel itchy, tender, or painful. It may become red and swollen.
If you notice any spots on the skin that are changing in size, shape, or color, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
It is also important to see a dermatologist once a year, especially if you are at risk for melanoma. Have your doctor examine all of your skin when you go for your annual physical.
|What you'll need:|
- A bright light
- A hand mirror
- A blow dryer
- A pencil
-A full-length mirror
- 2 chairs or stools
- Body maps
|1.||Examine your face, especially the nose, lips, mouth, and ears—front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.|
|2.||Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.|
|3.||Check your hands carefully: palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both front and back of your forearms.|
|4.||Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don't forget the underarms.|
|5.||Next focus on the neck, chest, and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the underside.|
|6.||With your back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back, and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4.|
|7.||Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks, and backs of both legs.|
|8.||Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin; ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of feet and heels.|
On the first exam, make a dot corresponding to the location on your skin of each freckle, mole, birthmark, bump, sore, scab, or scaly patch. Draw a line out to the margin and indicate its approximate size (use a scale) and color, and the date.
For each exam after that, find the spot on your skin, record the new date next to the old one, and note any change in size, color, or shape. Record any spots you did not see on last examination.