Advice on skin checking

Skin checking is an effective way of detecting melanoma and other types of skin cancer early, when it is the easiest to treat. The best way to examine your skin is part of a routine check, which helps you get to know your skin and also your body better too. An all over check can detect other issues such as fungal infections, joint and flexibility issues and even vascular problems.

Use the following as a guide to keeping it regular, simple and effective:

Check your skin each month after your bath or shower, when you are already naked and have time.

Ensure the room has plenty of light and use a full-length mirror and an angled hand-held mirror to help you spot hard to see areas.

Check the following areas in turn and/or get your partner to check the areas that you cannot easily see.

Head

Face, neck, ears, and scalp (use a comb/blow dryer to move hair and reveal scalp)

Front of body

Including legs and genital area

Back of body

Including backs of legs and buttocks

Side of body and arms

Raise your arms to see all and remember undersides

Hands and fingernails

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Feet

Toenails, soles of your feet, and the spaces between your toes

Learn where your moles and lesions are, and their usual look and feel. Check for anything new or changing, such as a…

  • New mole (that looks different from your other moles)
  • New red or darker colour flaky patch that may be a little raised
  • Change in the size, shape, colour, or feel of a mole
  • Sore that doesn’t heal
  • New flesh-coloured firm bump

Keep a skin journal: Write down the dates of your skin self-exams and make notes about the way your skin looks on those dates. Photo-documentation is a great way to help check for changes over time.

If you are a single man, ensure you spend extra time examining your back and tricky-to-spot places!

Trust your instincts. If you find anything that worries you, however insignificant it may appear, make an appointment to see your GP immediately.

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