Stay Ahead: Skin Self-Exams

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You don’t need any x-rays or blood tests to find skin cancer early – just your eyes and a mirror.


You don’t need any x-rays or blood tests to find skin cancer early – just your eyes and a mirror. Both regular exams by your doctor and checking your own skin frequently can help find cancers early, when they are easier to treat. People with reduced immunity, and those with a prior history (self or family) of skin cancer are at higher risk, so talk with your doctor about how often you should have skin examined.

Check your own skin

It’s important to check your own skin, preferably once a month. A skin self-exam is best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. You can use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see, such as the backs of your thighs. A spouse or close friend or family member may be able to help you with these exams, especially for those hard-to-see areas like your back or scalp.

The first time you examine your skin, spend time carefully going over the entire surface. Learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any changes next time. Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you.

Watch this video

Or follow these step-by-step instructions to examine your skin:

Face the mirror

  • Check your face, ears, neck, chest, and belly. Women will need to lift their breasts to check the skin underneath.
  • Check your underarm areas, both sides of your arms, the tops and palms of your hands, in between your fingers, and your fingernails.

Sit down

  • Check the front of your thighs, shins, tops of your feet, in between your toes, and your toenails.
  • Now use a hand mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet, your calves, and the backs of your thighs, first checking one leg and then the other.
  • Use the hand mirror to check your buttocks, genital area, lower and upper back, and the back of the neck and ears. Or it may be easier to look at your back in the wall mirror using a hand mirror. 
  • Use a comb or hair dryer to part your hair so that you can check your scalp.

You’re also welcome to ask your esthetician at Root Whole Body, while experiencing a full body detox treatment, to alert you to any suspicious sightings. Book a 20 minute consultation here. Of course, we advise you consult with your doctor for a formal diagnosis.

Additional links from the American Cancer Society:

Know your ABCDEs of melanoma

What should I look for?