Head-to-Toe Skin Cancer Check

Skin cancer is highly treatable if it is caught and treated early. You know your body best, so you are the best one to look for and notice changes. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you examine your skin from head-to-toe every month. Skin cancers appear in many shapes and sizes, and you are the best person to determine if something on your body is new, changing or unusual. Self-exams are a powerful way to look at yourself with the focus of saving your own life. 

Photo of dematologist doing a skin cancer screening on patient.

Reducing your risk of skin cancer begins with getting to know your body, including all the birthmarks and moles you already have. It’s important to know the normal look and feel of these marks so you know when something has changed.

Make sure you have plenty of light and use a hand-held or full-length mirror. Things to look for include:

  • A new mole (that looks different from your other moles)
  • A new red or darker color flaky patch that may be a little raised
  • A change in the size, shape, color or feel of a mole or birthmark
  • A sore that doesn’t heal

Check Yourself

  • Look at your face, neck, ears and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so you can see better. Sometimes your hairdresser or barber can help too.
  • Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Raise your arms and look at your sides.
  • Bend your elbows. Look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides) and upper arms.
  • Examine the back, front and sides of your legs.
  • Sit and take a close look at your feet, including your toenails, your soles and the spaces between your toes.

By checking your skin regularly, you’ll learn what is normal for you. It may be helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and write notes about the way your skin looks. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor.

Denver Health Medical Plan Staff Writer

The information contained on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained, expressed or implied in this blog, is intended as medical advice nor should it be construed as such. This blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, medical diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician or health care provider. It is not meant to and does not cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects and reliance on the information on this blog is at your own risk. Always talk to your doctor or other qualified health care provider about any concerns or questions you have about your medical care and do not disregard professional medical advice based on the information herein. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.