Head-to-Toe Skin Cancer Check

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Reducing your risk of skin cancer begins with getting to know your body and all the birthmarks and moles you already have. It’s important to know the normal look and feel of these marks so you know when something is changing.

Make sure you have plenty of light and use a hand-held or full-length mirror. Things you will want to notice are: a new mole (that looks different from your other moles, a new red or darker color flaky patch that may be a little raised, a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole or birthmark, or a sore that doesn’t heal.

Check Yourself

  • Look at your face, neck, ears, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so that you can see better. Sometimes your hairdresser or barber can help, too.
  • Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Raise your arms and look at your sides.
  • Bend your elbows. Look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides), and upper arms.
  • Examine the back, front, and sides of your legs.
  • Sit and take a close look at your feet, including your toenails, your soles, and the spaces between your toes.

By checking your skin regularly, you’ll learn what is normal for you. It may be helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and to write notes about the way your skin looks. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor.