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Checking your skin

How to check What to look for Caring for your skin

How to check your skin

It is important to regularly check your skin to ensure that you are aware of any changes. A great way to remember to complete this regularly is to check it at the start of each season.

Fortunately, performing a skin check is easy if you know what to look out for. Use the ABCDE guide below, and make it a habit to examine your skin, and your partner's skin, at the beginning of every season.

Follow these five steps to examine your skin.

Step One: Torso

Examine body front and back in mirror.

Lift your arms to check your face, head, neck, armpits and the sides of your body.

(Women) Lift each breast to check the underside.

With your back to a full length mirror, use a handheld mirror to check the back of the shoulders, back, upper arms and lower back.

Step Two: Arms & Hands

Look at the hands, both the backs and the palms.

Check between the fingers and under the fingernails.

Bend your elbows. Check wrists and forearms, both the back and front.

Use a large mirror to check all sides of the upper arms, including the underside.

Step Three: Legs & Feet

Check the front of the legs.

Use a full length and a hand mirror to check the legs, backs of the legs, buttocks and feet.

Sit down and crossing one leg over the other to check the front and sides of the legs, ankles feet, between toes and under toenails.

Cross the other leg over and repeat.

Check the soles of the feet

Step Four: Face, Head & Neck

Systematically check your face, nose, lips, mouth and ears.

Use a comb to part your hair and check your scalp.

Use a handheld mirror to check behind your ears and neck.

Step Five: Buttocks & Genital Area

Finally, check your back, buttocks and genital area with a hand mirror.

What to look for: ABCDE

The ABCDE is a simple acronym or classification tool used by dermatologists to distinguish a superficial spreading melanoma from a normal mole: Asymmetry, Borders, Colour, Diameter and Evolving.  It provides a simple way to think about what you are looking for. The following information should help you:

Asymmetry

Unlike most benign moles, a malignant mole is often asymmetric. This means that if you draw a line through the middle of the mole, the two sides do not mirror one another. An asymmetric mole is a warning sign for melanoma. If you, or your partner, have any concerns about a mole, please see your doctor as soon as possible. 

Example of a symmetric benign mole.

Example of an asymmetrical malignant mole.

Border

Benign moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma lesions often have uneven borders (ragged or notched edges).

An example of a mole with easily identifiable borders.

An example of a mole with difficult to distinguish borders.

Colour

Benign moles are usually a single shade - often a single shade of brown - whereas melanomas often contain multiple colours. Colours in melanoma lesions can include brown, black, pink, red, white or purple.

This benign mole is a single shade of brown.

This malignant mole contains multiple colours - a melanoma warning sign.

Diameter

Benign moles are usually less than 6mm in diameter (<6mm or 1/4”). Melanoma lesions are often more than 6mm in diameter (>6mm or 1/4”).

An example of a mole less than 6mm.

An example of a mole larger than 6mm

Evolving

When you check your skin, or your partner's skin, look out for any signs of change in appearance. Benign moles usually do not change over time whereas melanoma lesions often grow in shape or change in height. If you notice a change in shape, colour or height of a mole see your doctor immediately. Other changes to be concerned about include bleeding, itching, or crusting.

An example of change in a malignant melanoma lesion. As you can see, this mole has more than doubled in size over the period it was photographed.

Image source: http://servingnature.blogspot.com.au/

Caring for your skin

Read advice on how to care for your skin on the following pages.

Your Skin, Vitamin D & the SunSunscreen Explained

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