How to Do a Skin Self Exam

Melanomas can be distinguished from normal moles using the ABCDE rule:

  • A = Asymmetry
  • B = Border
  • C = Color
  • D = Diameter
  • E = Evolution

1. Examine your face, especially the nose, lips, mouth, and ears – front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.

2. Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help if you can.

3. Check your hands carefully; palms and backs, between the fingers, and under fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both the front and backs of your forearms.

4. Standing in front of a full length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don’t forget the underarms.

5. Next focus on the neck, chest, and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the underside.

6. With your back to the full length mirror, use a handheld mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back, and any part of the back of your arms you could not view in step 5.

7. Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks, and the backs of both legs.

8. Sit down; prop each leg in turn on another stool or chair. Use the handheld mirror to examine the genitals and mucosal area. Check the front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin; ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of feet and heels.

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