Skin cancer can be fatal, but when identified and dealt with early on it’s almost always treatable. It’s recommended that people receive a skin cancer screening each year, but it’s important to do self-examinations between visits. If you see a new mole or spots on your skin, mention this to a medical dermatologist.
When performing a skin check, it’s best to do it in a methodical way using the following procedure:
- Closely examine the face. Pay special attention to the mouth, ears and nose. If necessary, use multiple mirrors to do a complete evaluation.
- Check your scalp. Individuals with longer hair may need to use multiple mirrors, blow dryer, or a comb to get a clear view of their scalp.
- Carefully check your hands. This includes the palms and the back of your hands. Look at the webbing between your fingers and the areas around your fingernails.
- Standing in front of a mirror, carefully scan your arms. It is a good idea to begin with your wrists and methodically work your way up. Raise your arms above your head so that you can have a clearer view of your underarms.
- Next, closely examine your neck and torso area. Women will want to check the underside of their breasts during this part of the process.
- While standing facing away from a full-length mirror, examine your back, the back of your neck and your shoulders. Have a friend or family member inspect the areas you’re unable to get a glimpse at.
- While standing facing a full-length mirror, use a smaller mirror to give you a view of your buttocks and the back area of both of your legs for freckles and other signs of skin cancer.
- Sit down and one at a time place your feet on a stool that is in front of you. Carefully check both sides of your legs, the areas between your toes, and the soles of your feet. Examine the area between both of your thighs, including your genitals.
Contact our specialists in any one of our various Orange County dermatology centers to learn more about how we can help you perform a complete and effective skin cancer self-examination.