How should I examine my skin?

Follow these steps to perform a skin self-exam:

  • Perform a skin self-exam monthly after a bath or shower.
  • Use a full-length as well as hand mirror.
  • Ask a close family member or spouse for help visualizing difficult areas (e.g., back).
  • Note any moles, blemishes, or birthmarks from the top of your head to your toes.
  • Note changes in color, size, or shape of these markings or any sore that does not heal.
  • Use your phone or a camera to document these changes each month.
  1. Examine your body front and back in the mirror; then examine both sides with your arms raised.
  2. Examine the inside of your mouth by looking at your tongue, lips, and inner cheeks.
  3. With your elbows bent, check your forearms, upper arms, and palms carefully.
  4. Examine the back of your legs and feet (sit if it's more comfortable); check the soles of your feet and the spaces between your toes.
  5. Check the back of your scalp and neck using both mirrors; part your hair or use a blow dryer to give you a closer look. You can always ask your hair dresser or barber to point out any spots on your scalp.

If you find any changes in size, color, or shape of any previously noted mole or other skin markings, or if you develop a sore that does not heal, see your physician.

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