Performing a Self-Check for Skin Cancer With popular culture insisting that a healthy glow to the skin is attractive many people will go out to enjoy the sun or even go to tanning salons to keep their bronze skin all year round. With such exposure to UV rays skin cancer can be a serious concern. If you are one of these sun seeking individuals or simply conscious of your health here are the steps to perform a self-exam for skin cancer.
The Setup While checking for skin cancer is easy and low-tech there are a number of things that you will need to get. These items include: a handheld mirror, a full length mirror, a bright light, and a comb. As a side not if you have a friend who you are comfortable with you could have them help you in this inspection to make it easier. However, they would need to be a regular in your inspections since the key to these checkups is looking for any differences in your skin and knowing what it looks like normally.
What to Look for As mentioned, you are looking for changes in your skin. Possible changes could include red or darker patches of skin or bleeding sores that refuse to heal. Firm flesh colored lumps are important to note. Any changes to the size, color, or shape of a mole is very important. Moles that are painful or itchy, particularly large or multi-colored could be a serious issue. It is a good idea to browse online galleries for possible cancerous skin conditions to help you in identification. Generally you should receive an inspection at least annually but it is recommended that you check several times through the year (perhaps quarterly) for any issues.
Where to Check Obviously, you want to check your whole body but here is a list of areas so you donâ€™t overlook anything. 1. Your hands, tops and bottoms, around your fingernails are a good place to being. Then slowly move up your arms to your shoulders remembering to look from all angles. 2. Move up to your neck and face. Use the mirrors to view odd angles. It is important to check under chin, around your ears and the skin underneath your hair (this might take a while).
3. Move back down your neck to your chest, stomach, sides and back. Women should check the skin around and underneath their breasts. 4. Move down your body starting with the front and sides of your legs all the way down to your feet checking the bottoms as well as in between your toes. Then take the mirror and work your way back up to your buttocks taking special care to look at joints where skin may be harder to view.
If You Find Something If you have any doubts about a patch of skin or a mole contact your doctor as soon as possible to check the issue. Your doctor may take a skin sample (biopsy) to analyze. Relax and remain calm, the majority of issues are not cancerous. If you donâ€™t have personal health insurance free skin exams are actually offered nationwide through the American Academy of Dermatology. Visit their website at aad.com for more information and scheduling. Photo Credit: Alex Proimos, 401(K) 2012,