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Skin self-exams are very important if you’re at risk for skin cancer. Get to know the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks on your skin. Any new moles or changes in existing moles should be checked by your healthcare provider right away.

Tips for Checking Your Skin at Home 

The best time to do a skin self-exam is after a shower or bath. It’s important to look for changes when you do the self-exam. Do the exam the same way each time so you don’t miss any part of your body. If needed, ask someone for help when checking your skin. This can help with hard-to-see areas like your back and scalp.

  • Check your skin in a room with a lot of light. Use both a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror, so that you can see your whole body.
  • Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror.
  • Raise your arms and look at your left and right sides. Women should look under their breasts.
  • Examine the back and front of your legs. Also look between your buttocks and at your genital area.
  • Check the fronts and backs of your hands and forearms carefully, including between the fingers and under the fingernails.
  • Sit down and closely examine your feet. This includes the soles and the spaces between your toes. Also examine the nail bed of each toe.
  • Look at your face, neck and scalp. You may want to use a comb or blow-dryer to move your hair as you look, so you can see your scalp more clearly.

Preventing Skin Cancer

Since skin cancer is a largely preventable disease there are several things you can do to protect yourself. The Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap method will help you limit your sun exposure: Slip on a shirt, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat, and Wrap on some sunglasses to protect your eyes. 

Dr. Nandini Kulkarni discusses early warning signs of melanoma

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