Skin self-examination is an important practice for the early identification of possible skin problems, including skin cancers such as melanoma. It consists of regularly examining your skin to identify any changes or abnormalities.
Here are some key steps that should be included in skin self-exams:
- Examine your body front and back in a mirror, then look to your right and left sides with your arms raised.
- Look at the lower areas of the arms and hands, including the insides of the arms and hands.
- Check your feet, including your heels, soles, and toes.
- Examine the backs of your legs and buttocks.
- Examine the back of the neck and scalp with the help of a hand mirror. You may need to part your hair for a clearer view.
- Finally, carefully examine the back and upper parts of the body by reflecting in a wall mirror with a hand mirror.
During the self-examination, it is important to look for any changes in the skin, especially the development of new moles or changes in existing moles. Also, you need to look for signs of melanoma using the ABCDE rule:
- Asymmetry: One side of the mole does not match the other.
- Edges: Edges are rough, fuzzy, or jagged.
- Color: Color is not the same throughout and may include shades of black, brown and beige.
- Diameter: The mole is larger than 6 mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser), but melanomas can be smaller.
- Evolution: There has been a change in the color, size, shape, or elevation of the mole, or new symptoms such as bleeding, itching, or crusting.
Skin self-examination is an effective preventive tool, but it is not a substitute for periodic dermatological visits, particularly for those at high risk of skin cancer.