Definition  

skin self examA skin self-exam (SSE) is an examination of your skin that you do for yourself . It is a way for you to notice any changes or abnormalities in your skin. It is a good way to spot skin cancer early.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that you do an SSE every month. You should also have a clinical cancer-related checkup with your doctor during your periodic health exams.

Steps for a Skin Self-Exam  

The best time to do a SSE is after a shower or bath. Make sure the room is brightly lit. If you need to, ask a friend or partner to help you with areas that are hard to see.

  1. Look at your body-front and back-in the mirror. Lift your arms and check your left and right sides.
  2. Make sure you check your whole body thoroughly, not missing any areas.
  3. Become familiar with your body. It is important to know where your moles, birthmarks, and blemishes are and what they usually look like.
  4. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, upper arms, and hands. Make sure to check the undersides of these areas as well.
  5. Look at the back and front of your legs and feet. Do not forget between your toes and the soles of your feet.
  6. Check your face, the front and back of your neck, and your scalp using a hand mirror. Part your hair for a closer look. Most people have a lot of trouble looking at their own scalp. If your hair is long, using a hair dryer to blow it out of the way may make seeing the scalp easier.
  7. Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

Some skin cancers, such as squamous or basal cell, are most commonly found in areas that get a lot of sunlight. This includes your scalp, neck, arms, and areas on your head and face. Squamous cell cancers are new growths that look like cuts that have not healed, and they may bleed easily. They may have a hard, rough, or scaly appearance.

Basal cells can be flat or, raised, pink, red, sh