Skin doctors promote regular self examination of skin because research shows that self-skin exam can lead to early detection of skin cancer. Skin cancer detected and treated in its early stages is 95 percent curable disease. Even melanoma one of the most deadly form skin cancer if detected and treated early is highly curable.
Self examination for skin cancer means checking your own skin every three to six months for any abnormal growth or unusual changes in the size, color, shape or texture of your skin. It is important for you or your partner to look carefully whole body as skin cancer can occur anywhere. Be sure to check your back head, face, scalp, elbow, arms, underarms, palms, soles and skin between soles and palm. Use a mirror to examine hard-to-see areas such as your back, buttocks and genitals.
When you perform skin self-exam, look for new skin markings (moles, blemishes, colorations, bumps). Note changes on your skin, such as color or texture of your skin or mole that have changed in size, texture, color, or lesions that bleed continuously and will not heal. Look for small lumps or mass that are smooth glossy and waxy, or red or reddish brown. Be alert to flat red spots that are rough or scaly and have diameter larger than 3 millimeters. You can also maintain a diary or a journal to keep notes of skin changes.
The self-skin exam takes no more than 8 to 10 minutes, but that 10 minutes could save your life. The best time to do self-skin exam is at the time of taking bath or after a shower. If you are concerned about developing any form of skin cancer, consult your primary health care provider or dermatologist as soon as possible.