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How to Perform a Skin Self-Exam

Monthly Skin Self-Exams are essential for early detection. Because skin cancer happens due to damage from the sun and tanning beds, it’s necessary to check your skin regularly to tell if there are any new changes to your skin. 

When conducting a self-check for melanoma, there are certain features you can look for in your spots and moles. Using the ABCDEs of Melanoma method found here will assist you on what to look for regarding changes and abnormalities. 

How to Perform a Skin Self Examination

Before we get started, here are a few helpful tips: 

  • See your GSD dermatologist for a complete skin exam before you begin self-exams to establish a baseline of “normal.” 
  • Perform the self-skin exam monthly. We recommend choosing an easy day for you to remember to perform your exam, like the first day of the month. 
  • To conduct the self-skin exam, you’ll need a full-length mirror, a handheld mirror, a blow dryer, and a chair to sit on. 
  • You will need to remove all clothing, so a good time to do your exam is before a shower.
  • Print this body mole map created by the American Academy of Dermatology Association to track spots and changes to your skin and make necessary notes.

Your Head: Begin by facing a full-length mirror. Carefully examine your face, especially the nose, lips, mouth, and ears – front and back. It may help to use a handheld mirror and a full-length mirror to get a better look.

Your Scalp: Thoroughly examine the entire surface of your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Have a friend or family member help you should you need it.

Your Front Torso: Facing the full-length mirror, inspect your neck, chest, and torso. Women: check the skin underneath each breast. Lift your arms and check the sides of your upper body as well.

Your Back Torso: Face away from the full-length mirror, holding the handheld mirror. Examine your back, shoulders, the back of your neck, and any other body parts you could not see from the front. From there, continue down your body and examine your buttocks and the backs of your thighs.

Your Lower Body: Sit on a chair and scan your legs using the handheld mirror to look at the back of each leg. Check the fronts and backs of your hands and forearms carefully. This includes between the fingers and under the fingernails. Use the handheld mirror to check your private areas and the insides of your thighs.

The early detection of melanoma is imperative. If you make self-skin checks a regular part of your monthly routine, it could save your life.

At Golden State Dermatology, we offer the full spectrum of dermatology care. We provide our patients with the ultimate patient experience and confidence to be their best, knowing their skin health is in the best of hands. Book your next skin exam here. 

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