Skin Cancer: How to Examine Your Own Skin

How Prevalent is Skin Cancer?

An estimated one in every five Americans is at risk for developing skin cancer during their life. The good news is that skin cancer is generally very treatable when caught early, so frequent skin self-examinations are very important. General guidelines are that if you notice any spots on your skin that are changing, bleeding, different from others, or itching, you should make an appointment to see your dermatologist.

How Should I Perform a Skin Self-Exam?

First, take a look at your entire body in a full-length mirror, being sure to look at your back as well. Next, raise your arms and look at your left side, and then your right side carefully. Next, bend your elbows and take a good look at your underarms, forearms, and palm. Then, sit on a chair and inspect the soles of your feet, the spaces in between your toes, and the backs of your feet and legs.

For the next part, a hand mirror will come in handy, because you’ll need to use it to reflect in your full-length mirror so that you can see the back of your head and neck. Part your hair in several places to see the skin underneath. Last, use your hand mirror to check your buttocks and your back.

To Sum it Up

There is no substitute for regular visits to your physician, but skin self-exams are a way that you can stay on top of your health and possibly detect any skin abnormalities early. Early detection can be key to a successful treatment. Be sure to work closely with your doctor, perform frequent skin self-exams, and get regular physicals. If you do happen to find any skin abnormalities, see a dermatologist as soon as possible. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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