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A skin self-examination is a test you can perform on yourself to check for abnormalities in your skin, such as sores, bumps, or changes in skin color or texture. It’s an important way to screen for dangerous skin conditions, such as skin cancer.
The Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend that you do a skin self-exam once a month. You may need to check your skin more often if you have a history of skin cancer or if it runs in your family.
A skin self-exam is used to check for problems with the skin caused by cancer, disease, infection, or injury. Early detection is the best defense against any harmful skin condition. Spotting problems with your skin allows you to get treatment as quickly as possible.
There are no risks associated with a skin self-exam. If you spot something unusual, don’t panic; just book an appointment with your doctor to find out what it is.
To properly perform a skin self-exam, you will need a full-length mirror, a bright light, and privacy. If you have a handheld mirror, it will also come in handy. You will have to be nude for the test. If you’d like, you can conduct the test with the help of your partner.
To ensure that you cover all areas of your body, follow the recommended method for inspecting your skin from the American Academy of Dermatology:
During the test, be on the lookout for any of the following abnormalities in your skin that may be new or changing:
When inspecting moles, use the ABCDE method to identify abnormalities that should be checked by a doctor:
The first thing to do if you discover something out of the ordinary is to stay calm. Little changes in the skin don’t necessarily indicate skin cancer.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist so that he or she can perform tests to determine the cause of your skin abnormality.
Written by: Brian Krans
Medically reviewed on: Sep 10, 2012: Jennifer Wider, MD
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