When we were young, basking in the summer sunlight, we didn’t give any thought to the repercussions. Then, after we endured our fair share of sunburns and had a few more years to contemplate our futures, our behavior started to change. So, now, as we slather on daily moisturizer with SPF, our minds sometimes drift to the possibility of developing one of the many types of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US, with estimates of one in five Americans developing the disease in their lifetime. However, the earlier skin cancer is caught, the better. So, taking 10 minutes, about once a month to scan your body could change your life. All you need is a mirror and your eyes (and maybe a super close friend) and you’re all set.
How To Do A Quick Skin Check
You’ll need a full-length mirror or a hand mirror to ensure you see all the areas on your body. Check every part of your body for any and all bumps, moles, blemishes, and freckles. Learn what’s normal for you, so you can check for changes and irregularities.
You should also memorize and check for the “ABCDEs” of melanoma. The ABCDEs are warning signs of melanoma and have to do with moles and other skin lesions. They include: asymmetry, borders, color, diameter, and evolution.
According to the American Cancer Society, it’s important to perform self-exams especially if you are at high risk. If you have a family history of the disease, have had skin cancer before, or have a compromised immune system, it’s even more important. But, everyone can benefit from a self-check every now and then. Here’s how:
- Check your scalp, behind your ears, and use a hand mirror (or a friend!) to check the back of your neck.
- Face the mirror and check you face, neck, chest, and belly. Make sure to check the skin under your breasts. (It’s equally important to preform breast self-exams.)
- Check under your arms, palms of your hands, and even under your fingernails.
- While checking your legs, don’t forget to check the back of your thighs, tops and bottoms of your feet, and even between your toes.
- Make sure to also check your upper and lower back and private areas.
If you find something suspicious–don’t freak out. Make an appointment with your primary physician or dermatologist as soon as possible though. Early detection is clutch, and the fact that you found something during a self-exam is the point of the self-exam.
Another sign to look for is called “The Ugly Duckling.” Moles on your body usually look similar to one another, but certain skin cancers will stand out like ugly ducklings. So, when in doubt, always get it checked out! It’s better to be safe than sorry.