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Skin Self-Examination

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A skin self-exam is used to identify suspicious growths that may be cancer or growths that may develop into skin cancer (precancers). Adults should examine their skin once every month. Look for any abnormal skin growth or any change in the color, shape, size, or appearance of a skin growth. Check for any area of injured skin (lesion) that does not heal.

To perform a skin self-exam:

  • Stand in front of a full-length mirror. Examine your body front and back, then examine your right and left sides with your arms raised.
  • Bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, the back of your upper arms, and your palms.
  • Look at your feet, the soles of your feet, and the spaces between your toes.
  • Using a hand mirror, look at:
    • The back of your legs.
    • The back of your neck.
    • Your scalp. Part your hair several times, in different places, to look at your entire scalp.
    • Your back, buttocks, and genital area.

If you see a suspicious skin growth during your self-exam, contact your doctor.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Last Revised October 12, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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