How To Do Skin Cancer Self-Exams

woman in mirror self exam skin cancer

The thought of doing self-exams may be scary for some, but professional dermatologists want everyone to know that self-exams are easy and an excellent way to stay ahead of signs of skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer. However, the good news is that early detection is highly treatable, so self-exams are worth it!

Who Does Skin Cancer Affect?

Regardless of age, gender, and skin color, skin cancer affects everyone. If you think about it, one in five people is a significant number of people dealing with the potential for skin cancer in their lifetime. The likelihood of getting skin cancer means it is worth taking note and being mindful of the signs so that if the signs do develop, they can be treated sooner rather than later.

Dermatologist Tips for Self-Exams

Dermatologists want people to know that early detection is critical, so sharing how to do self-exams is beneficial, and nothing is off limits. Skin cancer may appear in the fingernails, scalp, hands, feet, between the toes, and on the bottom of your feet! If you want to know more about self-exams, there is endless research and information online to guide people, but here are some basics to begin with.

  1. Use a Full-Length Mirror to Start—A full-length mirror allows a better overall view of the body, allowing individuals to see their full left and right sides during a self-exam. Raise your arms and turn around in front of the mirror, noting any moles.
  2. Check Forearms, Underarms, and Palms – bending arms at the elbows to get a full view of forearms, and doing a complete exam under the arms, on the palms of the hands, and checking fingernails should be done regularly.
  3. Check Legs and Feet – use the full-length mirror to check the back of the legs. The legs and feet should be checked thoroughly. Even though most people think of moles as being in visible areas, they can appear anywhere, and a thorough self-exam is an excellent place to start. Between the toes and toenails should be included, as well as the soles of the feet.
  4. Check Scalp and Neck Using Hand Mirror – using a hand mirror is easier for checking the back of the neck and the scalp. Using a hand mirror in front of a full-length mirror can be quite effective. When checking the scalp, part hair in different areas to ensure you are checking your entire scalp, behind the ears, and on the nape of the neck.
  5. Check Back Using Hand Mirror – although a full body check may reveal something on your backside, do a separate check using a handheld mirror. If you see anything in the whole body check, try to get a closer view with a handheld mirror on the back and when checking the buttocks.

Don’t Skip Skin Cancer Screenings

The thought of a self-exam may seem daunting, and any physical limitations can make it challenging. Remember that the best and most reputable dermatologists take skin cancer seriously and are able to do full body exams in their office. If you notice moles in visible areas, it is even more critical to check the areas you can’t see easily.

Pay Attention to Changing Moles

If you have any moles that change over time, seem out of place compared to others, or have any that are irritating, bleeding, or painful, seek the professional help of an experienced and licensed dermatologist immediately. If you reside or work in the Atlanta area, Buckhead Dermatology owner and practicing dermatologist Sherrie Straughn is known in the industry as the best in detecting early signs of skin cancer. Suppose you are uncomfortable doing a self-exam or have questions or physical limitations that prevent you from doing a complete self-exam. In that case, many insurance carriers cover skin cancer exams, and they should become part of the annual preventative medical program.

When it comes to skin cancer screenings, don’t skip it because it seems too difficult because this type of cancer is highly treatable and early detection and treatment are vital to successful removal. If you have any questions about existing moles on your skin or want to schedule a skin cancer screening, schedule an appointment today with a trusted dermatologist in your area. Men and women should all be mindful of skin cancer and its increasing likelihood with age. Take a proactive approach to your skin’s health and begin your skin cancer self-exams today. Dermatologists are on your side, and the screenings in the office do not have to be uncomfortable or awkward. This simple exam can bring peace of mind and is worth your effort.