The monthly skin check is an essential part of making sure your skin is healthy, and is recommended by dermatologists to detect possible signs of skin cancer. This is especially important for people who are immune-compromised, have had skin cancer before, or have a family history of skin cancer, because early detection increases the chance of treating it successfully.
Here’s how to do a self skin check in 3 easy steps. Before you start, make sure you are in a well lit room, have a full-length and hand mirror, and a comb.
Step 1: Upper Body
Face the mirror to check your face, neck, chest, hands, arms, and torso. When scanning your skin, look to see if you see any new or changes in the moles or marks on your skin, and any spots or sores that do not heal and continue to hurt, itch or scab.
Step 2: Lower Body
This is where you’ll need a hand mirror! To check the lower half of your body, sit down to check the top of your thighs and your shins. Use the hand mirror to check the back of your thighs and your behind.
Step 3: The Scalp
The last place to scan is your scalp. This is an important part of the body to a spot check! Skin cancers on the scalp are often found at later and more severe stages, because it’s a place we don’t see regularly in the mirror, but it’s not always protected from the sun. To spot check your scalp, use a comb to part your hair so that you can scan your scalp for any unusual spots or sores.
The Skin Cancer Foundation has created the ABCDEs of melanoma to help you remember the warning signs of melanoma. If you see anything that concerns you, talk to your doctor or dermatologist immediately. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada and it is the most treatable. Early detection can save your life!