Do you know that your chances of developing skin cancer increase due to excess exposure to harmful UV rays? If you do, then you should engage in preventive measures like wearing protective clothing or applying SPF of 30 or more daily. However, while prevention is one way to go, early detection of cancer signs is crucial because we cannot eliminate the risk of skin cancer.
The American Academy of Dermatology has identified skin cancer as the most common cancer in the U.S. We’ve also learned that the earlier we discover skin cancer, the greater likelihood of getting effective treatment. With this in mind, we’re telling you how to do skin self-examination, and the signs to look for if your skin undergoes any change.
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What Irregularities To Look For When Checking Your Skin
Before you go on to perform your skin check, you need to know what you’re looking for. The first step is to observe your entire skin and its features and get used to its look. You need to be familiar with your skin and what it looks like in its current healthy state.
When you begin your skin checks, you can now look for new appearances on your skin and things that weren’t there before. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, changing skin form and appearance could be a sign of skin cancer. Such changing appearances include growths on the skin that increase in size, moles that grow and lose color, scabs, crusts, itching spots, and sores that don’t heal in weeks.
How To Perform A Skin Self Examination
Now that we know what to look for, let’s get to the basics of your self-examination. You’ll need a full-length and handheld mirror to help you see every part of your skin.
You can begin at your head and examine down to your toes. You can use a handheld mirror to observe your head while using a blow dryer or comb to take your hair out of the way so you can view your scalp. Don’t forget to look behind your ears as well.
You can also enlist someone to help you check for strange, new, and unusual appearances on your skin.
After your head, continue downwards and examine the rest of your body using your mirrors and with concentration. As you do that, take note of anything you see that’s strange. You can also take pictures of these things to show your dermatologist if they seem major, or monitor small changes for a while if they don’t seem threatening.
Some areas to not overlook when inspecting your skin include the genital area, your underarms, the space between your fingers and toes, under your finger and toenails, and the soles of your feet.
Don’t hesitate to seek immediate and urgent attention if you notice anything you consider unusual, new, or changing feature, don’t downplay it or delay. Visit a dermatologist immediately and allow them to tell you what it is. Don’t forget that the littlest of change could be a sign of skin cancer.
Here are signs you should report to your dermatologist:
- An open sore that hasn’t healed after three weeks
- A brown, black, tan, or multi-colored growth that appears pearly and increases in size.
- A sore, crust, scab, or spot that itches, bleeds and hurts.
- A brown spot, mole, or birthmark that grows in size, changes texture or color or is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that we perform monthly self-examinations to keep up with possible changes to our skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation also advises that you visit a dermatologist for a professional skin examination every year to investigate the possibility of a dangerous change to your skin.
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