Examining Your Skin

Get a professional skin examination from a dermatologist once a year, and learn how to perform a monthly skin self-examination. Skin self-exams do not require any special medical equipment. All you need are your eyes, a mirror, and the knowledge of what to look for. Here are some tips for performing a skin self-examination:

  • Perform skin self-examinations in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a handheld mirror for hard-to-see places. The best time to do a skin self-exam is after a shower or bath.

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  • Learn the pattern of your moles, freckles, or other birthmarks so that you will notice any changes.

  • Look for new growths, spots, bumps, or sores that do not heal normally.

  • Don’t forget hard-to-see areas of your body such as your head, the underside of your arms, the backs of your legs, and between your toes.

The “ABCDEs” of Moles

If you have any moles that fit the following criteria, ask your doctor to check them out.

Asymmetrical: Is the mole oddly shaped?

Border: Does the mole have irregular or vaguely defined borders?

Color: Does the mole have uneven coloring or multiple colors?

Diameter: Is the mole larger than a pencil eraser or is it growing in size?

Evolution: Has the mole grown or changed in any way?

Melanoma Support

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with melanoma? Call the Melanoma Helpline at 1-877-MRF-6460 (673-6460) for reliable information, emotional support and helpful resources.

The helpline is a partnership of CancerCare and the Melanoma Research Foundation (www.melanoma.org).