Doing a skin self-exam involves checking your skin for any unusual growths or skin changes. A skin self-exam helps find many skin problems early. Finding skin cancer early may give you a better chance for being cured.
Experts do not agree on whether or not skin self-exams should be performed. So there is no standard recommendation for how often to perform them.
Checking your skin regularly can help you notice any unusual changes.
Look for several things when doing a skin self-exam.
New skin markings:
Moles that have changed in:
Also look for:
To do a skin self-exam:
Tell your health doctor right away if:
Robinson JK. The Importance of Primary and Secondary Prevention Programs for Skin Cancer. In: Rigel DS, Robinson JK, Ross M, Friedman RJ, Cockerell CJ, Lim HW, Stockfleth E, Kirkwood JM, eds. Cancer of the Skin. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 7.
Screening for Skin Cancer Recommendation Statement Date: February 2009. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf09/skincancer/skincanrs.htm. Accessed April 14, 2014.
Titus LJ, Clough-Gorr K, Mackenzie TA, Perry A, Spencer SK, Weiss J, Abrahams-Gessel S, Ernstoff MS. Recent skin self-examination and doctor visits in relation to melanoma risk and tumour depth. Br J Dermatol. 2013; 168(3): 571-576.
What You Need To Know About Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers: How To Check Your Skin. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/skin/page15. (NIH Publication No. 10-7625). Accessed April 27, 2014.
Updated by: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, Dermatologist in Private Practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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