When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is one of the most important factors for long-term survival. If found before it spreads, also called metastasizing, many skin cancers can be excised with no further treatments necessary. You should see a doctor at least once a year for a full-body skin check, but you should also be performing checks at home on a monthly basis. Here are some tips for doing a thorough and careful skin check at home.
Use Mirrors to Your Advantage
Seeing the back of your own scalp, your back, down the backs of your legs and your own buttocks is nearly impossible without mirrors. Use a full-length wall mirror and two hand mirrors to carefully inspect every inch of your skin. Don’t leave this up to a partner or family member; they may not note changes or have your body memorized as well as you do.
Use Photographs for Reference
Whether you call them birthmarks, beauty spots or freckles, it can be difficult to remember their normal size, location, color and appearance if you have a lot of them. Take pictures of yourself to create a visual map of what is normal. Take long shots to catalog location and number, then take crisp close-ups to record color and shape. If necessary, place a coin next to the birthmark to provide a size reference.
Note Any Lumps or Bumps
During your home skin check, you may note those tiny bumps on your biceps; they could be folliculitis, but you should ask a doctor. The same can be said for any presumed cysts, nodules or cystic acne eruptions. If it’s a bump or a lump, photograph it, note its location and check it again in a week. If it’s grown, it hurts or it’s making you nervous in any way, get to a doctor.
Don’t Ignore Hidden Body Parts
Many people get it into their head that skin cancer only blooms on skin that’s exposed to the sun. This is not true and is a deadly misconception. Skin cancer can affect any patch of skin you have, including the bottoms of your feet, your groin, between your buttocks, on the anus or genitals and even on the insides of the thighs or between your toes. Look everywhere and neglect nothing.
Checking yourself for signs of skin cancer is an important aspect of self-care. By keeping these tips in mind, you can do a thorough job and catch any potential issues early. If you need another pair of eyes for a skin check or are concerned about a skin change you’ve noted, contact Rao Dermatology today to schedule an appointment.