Skin Self Examination – Part One

A few weeks ago, our Skin Care Consultant Cathy Hedrick wrote an overview about Skin Care. In that post, she mentioned how the American Academy of Dermatology (“AAD”) recommends that people perform a skin self-exam once a month. So today, I am pleased to address the value to you of this monthly routine and how to approach your self-exam.
Research shows that this can can lead to early detection of skin cancer, including melanoma. Everyone should examine their skin for suspicious moles and changes to the skin that may be precursors of skin cancer.
Here are a few things to consider:
Get Help From a Spouse or Friend
Ask for help from someone close to you. Examining your skin with the two individuals is more effective than one. This is especially true for examining hard-to-see areas, such as your back and scalp. Eliciting their assistance may inspire them to check their skin as well.
Getting Started
The best time to examine your skin is following a shower or bath. Check your skin in a well-lit room using a full-length mirror and handheld mirror.
We suggest that you use a Body Mole Map to record where moles or cutaneous changes appear on your skin.  This will help with future checks by serving as a guide to follow your moles to determine if there is a change in size, color or shape.
Check Yourself from Head to Toe
By checking your skin regularly, you will become familiar with what is normal for your skin.  It is helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and write notes about the way your skin looks.  If you find anything unusual, be sure to come see us right away!
Next week I will address what you should be looking for while doing your monthly exam.
BY: KIRK D. SADDLER, M.D.

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