Give Yourself a Skin Checkup

As spring ends and summer begins, it’s a great time to start regular self-exams for skin cancer.

To check for melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, stand in front of a mirror. Look for moles or other skin spots that are asymmetric; have an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border; varying colors; or that have changed in size, shape or color. In addition, melanomas are usually larger than a pencil eraser. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends these steps for a self-exam:

1. Examine the front and back of your body in the mirror. Then raise the arms and examine the right and left sides of the body.

2. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, upper underarms and palms.

3. Next examine the backs of your legs, between your toes and your soles.

4. Finally, examine hard-to-see areas such as your back, buttocks and the top of your head. Use a mirror to inspect the back of your neck, behind your ears and scalp.

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, says dermatologist Thomas E. Rohrer, M.D. “Catching skin cancer early is key for successful treatment, so check your skin regularly”; see a dermatologist immediately about suspicious spots.

Watch a video on how to give yourself an at-home skin exam.

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