Regular skin exams of your entire body are important for everyone.

Everyone should perform regular skin exams, and your dermatologist can recommend how often you need an in-office skin exam based on your individual risk factors for skin cancer, including skin type, family history of skin cancer, weakened immune system or a history of sun exposure. If you have a history of melanoma, you should have a full-body exam by a board-certified dermatologist at least annually and perform regular self-checks.

Skin self-exams are very important if you’re at risk for skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about half of melanomas are self-detected. Get to know the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin. Any new moles or changes in existing moles should be checked by your healthcare provider right away.

The best time to do a skin self-exam is after a shower or bath. It’s important to look for changes when you do the self-exam. Do the exam the same way each time. This is so you don’t miss any part of your body. If needed, ask someone for help when checking your skin. This can help with hard-to-see areas like your back and scalp.

  1. Check your skin in a room with a lot of light. Use both a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror, so that you can see your whole body.

  2. Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror.

  3. Raise your arms and look at your left and right sides. Women should look under their breasts.

  4. Examine the back and front of your legs. Also look between your buttocks and at your genital area.

  5. Check the fronts and backs of your hands and forearms carefully. This includes between the fingers and under the fingernails.

  6. Sit down and closely examine your feet. This includes the soles and the spaces between your toes. Also examine the nail bed of each toe.

  7. Look at your face, neck, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or blow-dryer to move your hair as you look, so you can see your scalp more clearly.

First, check if any moles fit the ABCDE rules. These rules can help you tell if a mole should be checked by your healthcare provider. The ABCDE rules are:

Skin Cancer

Sign

Characteristic

Skin cancer showing asymmetry.

Asymmetry

When half of the mole does not match the other half

Skin cancer showing irregular border.

Border

When the border (edges) of the mole are ragged or irregular

Skin cancer showing more than one color.

Color

When the color of the mole varies throughout

Skin cancer with dotted-line circle and arrow showing diameter.

Diameter

If the mole's diameter is larger than a pencil's eraser

Skin lesions showing evolution of skin cancer.

Evolving

Changes in the way the mole looks over time

Other signs and symptoms that may be skin cancer include:

  • A mole or skin mark that itches, or is tender or painful

  • A mole or skin mark that oozes, bleeds, or becomes crusty

  • A mole or skin mark that looks different from your other moles or skin marks

  • A sore that doesn't heal

  • A mole or sore that becomes red or swells at its edges or beyond

it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have moles or other spots on your skin with the features above. Also see your provider if you are worried about a spot on your skin for some other reason. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer. Most moles are not melanoma.

CHH Family Medical Center at Merritts Creek

100 Meadow Pointe
Barboursville, WV 25504
Phone: 304-399-2990

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Marshall Dermatology

1934 11th Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701
Phone: 304-691-1930

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Marshall Dermatology - Teays Valley

300 Corporate Center Drive
3rd Floor
Scott Depot, WV 25560
Phone: 304-691-1833

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Marshall Family Medicine

An outpatient department of Cabell Huntington Hospital
Marshall University Medical Center
1600 Medical Center Drive
1st Floor
Huntington, WV 25701
Phone: 304-691-1100
Toll-Free Phone: 877-691-1600

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Marshall Family Medicine - Barboursville

Village Medical Center
659 Central Avenue
Barboursville, WV 25504
Phone: 304-736-5247

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