What's the best way to do a skin self-examination?
The best way is to use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror to check every inch of your skin.
1. First, you need to learn where your birthmarks, moles and blemishes are and what they usually look like. Check for anything new, such as a change in the size, texture or color of a mole, or a sore that doesn't heal.
2. Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at the left and right sides.
3. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms and forearms, including the undersides, and your upper arms.
4. Check the back and front of your legs.
5. Look between your buttocks and around your genital area.
6. Sit and closely examine your feet, including the bottoms of your feet and the spaces between your toes.
7. Look at your face, neck and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move hair so that you can see better.
By checking yourself regularly, you'll get familiar with what's normal for you. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor. The earlier skin cancer is found, the better.
What does a normal mole look like?
A normal mole is solid tan, brown, dark brown or flesh colored. Its edges are well-defined. It's usually smaller than 1/4 inch in diameter and has a round or oval shape. It should be flat or dome-like.
How can I tell if my mole isn't normal?
The main thing to look for is any change in a mole that you have or the appearance of a new mole. Most normal moles appear by age 30. Any moles that appear after age 30 should be watched carefully and brought to the attention of your family doctor.
See a list of resources used in the development of this information.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff