Skin Self-Exam

Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed: July 23, 2020

Changes to the skin can be a sign of skin cancer. A self-examination of the skin will help you to check your skin and to find any new changes. This should be done once a month at home. Looking at your skin fully and regularly will help you become familiar with your skin and moles, helping you to find changes.

When doing your skin exam, look at yourself head to toe, including the skin on your scalp, back, genitals, between your buttocks and between your toes and fingers. Have a full-length mirror on hand. You will need to use one or two extra mirrors to see all of these areas. You can use a blow dryer to move your hair or you can ask a family member or friend for help. 

The ABCDE rule is a system to help you remember what to look for when checking any moles on your skin. Call your healthcare provider for evaluation if you notice any of these changes:

A: Asymmetry - one side of the mole is not a mirror-image of the other side.
B: Border - the edges of the mole cannot be clearly identified or are jagged.
C: Color - the mole has changed color - it may have darkened, lightened or many colors may appear.
D: Diameter - the mole is larger than 1/4 inch in diameter (the distance across the mole).
E: Evolving - the mole is changing in any way such as bleeding, becoming itchy, or crusting.

Be thorough when doing your self-exam and note any changes. It is important to contact your care provider if you notice any changes in your skin. 

References

Skin Cancer Foundation. Step by Step Self-Examination

Skin Cancer Foundation. Do You Know Your ABCDEs? 

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