Skin cancer is a deadly disease that claims many lives each year. However, finding it as soon as possible increases the chances of survival and can mean less invasive treatment options. As such, we should all keep a close eye on our skin to watch out for potential issues.
Regular skin exams are crucial for people at a higher risk of getting skin cancer, such as those with a family history of it, reduced immunity, or people who have had skin cancer before.
However, even if you don’t fall into these categories or spend much time in the sun or have fair skin that burns quickly, it’s vital to remain vigilant. Here are some skin self-check tips you can follow.
Know What to Look Out For
You need to know what types of abnormalities to look out for when you check your skin. Be aware that not all skin cancers look the same, and they can come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, some of which don’t even present, to the general layperson, as a skin condition.
However, take notice if you see a new, expanding, or changing spot, growth, or bump anywhere on your skin or a rough or scaly patch that’s red, especially if it bleeds or looks crusted. Pause for concern if you have any type of sore on your skin that bleeds or still hasn’t healed after a few weeks.
Plus, other signs include moles with strange shapes, multiple colors, or irregular borders, and moles and other spots that crop up out of the blue or seem to be changing in color, shape, or size. Furthermore, wart-like growths are worth investigating.
These are only some of the signs to beware of since skin cancer can appear in other ways. They’re also more common on the areas of the body where we get the most sun, such as the arms, face, head, and neck, but they can appear anywhere on the body.
See Your Body from Different Angles
A thorough skin self-check will take some time but is well worth that investment. To get the best view, stand in front of a full-length mirror in a well-lit room so you can see yourself properly. You’ll also want to have a hand-held mirror available so you can check out harder-to-see areas like the backs of your thighs and your head.
For your initial skin check, take the time to carefully examine the entire surface of your skin so you can learn the pattern of marks on it. That way, you’ll notice if anything changes over time. Face the mirror and look at your chest, belly, neck, face, and ears. Lift your breasts as needed to check the skin below them, too. Take a look at both sides of your arms, in your underarm regions, under your fingernails and between your fingers, and the tops and palms of your hands.
Sitting down, view the tops of your feet and between your toes, plus under your toenails. Examine your shins and the front of your thighs, too. With the hand mirror, peer at your calves, backs of your thighs, and bottoms of your feet one by one, as well as your genital region and buttocks.
The hand mirror is also your friend when it comes to perusing your upper and lower back and the back of your ears and neck. Furthermore, don’t forget to use a hairdryer or comb to part your hair in different spots so you can examine your scalp all over.
Take Steps if You Spot Something Unusual
If you do see something that looks unusual, new, or like it has changed, don’t shrug it off as nothing. There’s no cause for alarm right away, but you should have a physician check any areas of concern. They will be able to either alleviate your worries or refer you to a specialist for further examinations and potential biopsies, etc.
You can see a medical practitioner in person if you feel comfortable or book an appointment with an online doctor and show them your skin by holding up a smartphone camera or other device. Doctors may suggest doing additional exams or tests and want to take decent close-up photos of the area so it’s easier to keep an eye on changes over time.
They will typically ask about symptoms, too, such as when you first noticed marks, if they have changed or grown, if they’re itchy, sore, or bleeding, and the like. Doctors need to know your family history, too, so learn what you can before a visit.
Skin cancer is a worrying health problem, but the sooner you spot any issues, the better. Stay vigilant with your self-care in this way, and your body will thank you for it.