How to do a skin self-exam
You can improve your chances of finding skin cancer promptly by performing a simple skin self-exam regularly. The best time to do this self-exam is after a shower or bath. You should check your skin in a well-lighted room using a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror. It's best to begin by learning where your birthmarks, moles, and blemishes are and what they usually look like. Here are some tips:
- Check for anything new--a change in the size, texture, or color of a mole, or a sore that does not heal.
- Check all areas, including the back, the scalp, between the buttocks, and the genital area.
- Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at the left and right sides.
- Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms; forearms, including the undersides; and the upper arms.
- Examine the back and front of your legs. Also look between your buttocks and around your genital area.
- Sit and closely examine your feet, including the soles and the spaces between the toes.
- Look at your face, neck, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move hair so that you can see better.
By checking your skin regularly, you will become familiar with what is normal. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor right away. Remember, the earlier skin cancer is found, the better the chance for cure.
How to do a skin self-exam. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/skin/page13 . Accessed November 3, 2005.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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