How can I do a skin check at home, and how often do I need to do it?

Stripping down and inspecting your moles, freckles, and other skin spots isn't exactly fun, but it is smart. Especially for anyone over 30, since catching even the riskiest skin cancers early almost guarantees a cure.

Follow these steps to do a skin self-exam:
  • Look at the front and the back of your body in a mirror.
  • Look at your left and right sides. Raise your arms and bend your elbows.
  • Look at your underarms, forearms, and palms and the back of your upper arms.
  • Sit down and look at the back of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
  • Use a mirror to examine the back of your neck and scalp. Use a blow dryer on a low setting to examine your entire scalp.
  • Use a hand mirror to examine your back and your buttocks.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Ask your doctor or dermatologist how often you should get your skin checked. The proper amount of time between skin examinations varies from one person to another. For instance, if you have skin cancer or another serious skin condition, your doctor might instruct you to schedule regular office visits. Also, be sure to ask your doctor for instructions on how to examine your skin at home. Report any changes in your skin right away. 
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD

We should all give our skin a once-over every month. Most of us don't do it at all. But if you catch something early, it can save your life. You don't really have to know exactly what you're looking for. Just know your own skin. If something has changed, the computer system in your mind is going to notice. That's all you need to tell your doctor. It is incredibly helpful just to bring our attention to it. The best time to do a skin self-exam is when you get out of the shower, as you're drying yourself off in the bathroom. There's usually a mirror in there, and you'll have some privacy and probably three minutes to spare. Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then look at the right and left sides with your arms raised. Look at your arms, inside your arms and your hands. Inspect your legs, front, and back, your feet, between the toes, and on the soles. If you have a hand mirror, try to check inside your ears, look behind your ears, on your back, on your scalp. Comb through your hair and use a hair dryer to blow it to the sides and inspect your scalp in as many areas as possible. Enlist help too. If possible, ask your partner to check hard-to-see places such as your back. But do it together while you look in the mirror, so you can see too. When you get your hair done, ask your hairstylist if he or she sees any spots on your scalp. Your dentist should do a skin cancer check inside your mouth as part of your regular checkup. Your eye doctor should check for skin cancer, and your gynecologist should too. Ask them.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.