How to do a Skin Self-Exam

The best time to do a skin self-exam is after a shower or bath. You should check your skin in a well-lighted room using a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror. It is best to begin by learning where your birthmarks, moles and blemishes are and what they usually look and feel like. Check for anything new, especially a change in the size, shape, texture, or color of a mole or a sore that does not heal.

Check yourself from head to toe. Don’t forget to check all areas of the skin, including the back, the scalp, between the buttocks, and the genital area.

Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.

Bend your elbows and look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides) and upper arms.

Examine the back, front and sides of your legs. Also look between the buttocks and around the genital area.

Sit and closely examine your feet, including the toenails, the soles and the spaces between the toes.

Look at your face, neck, ears and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move hair to get a better looks. You also may want to have a relative or friend check through your hair because this is difficult to do yourself.

By checking your skin regularly, you will become familiar with what is normal for you. It may be helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and to write notes about the way your skin looks. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor right away.