While most cases of skin cancers can be cured, it’s all in the early detection. From the scalp on your head to the soles of your feet (yes, even down there), skin cancer can appear anywhere on your body, so it’s important to check your skin regularly and to know what to look for.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to schedule appointments every month with your doctor – instead, conducting simple self-check exams are worthwhile to keep an eye on things.
Redheads are at a much higher risk than non-redheads of skin cancer, so while it’s a tedious and somewhat daunting task, it’s extremely important to do at regular intervals, made much simpler by new technology like skin-checking app Miiskin, which helps you track your skin and moles for changes over time.
How to check your skin
You will need:
- a well lit room – daylight is best
- a wall mirror and a handheld mirror
- a chair and a foot rest
- a blow-dryer or a comb to move your hair
- a body map and a pencil to record your skin appearance or a skin checking app
What am I looking for?
Anything that is different to what is normal for you is a key thing to note when you’re checking your skin.
Whether that’s an Ugly Duckling new growth, a darkening patch of skin, or a lesion that doesn’t heal, there are several things to look out for. Read our post on ‘Skin cancer signs redheads should look out for’ to learn more about the signs of skin cancer
The five steps to check your skin
Your body can be split into five steps to follow when conducting your skin cancer self-check examination:
1. Face and scalp
Stand in front of a mirror and inspect your nose, lips, mouth and ears. Next, use a handheld mirror to help you see your scalp. Either use a comb or hair dryer to move your hair to make it easier.
2. Hands and arms
Looks at your palms, check between your fingers and examine your fingernails. Next, move onto your wrists before moving up to your elbows and upper arms, checking both front and back as you go.
3. Chest and torso
In front of the mirror, look at your chest and torso. And ladies, don’t forget to check the underside of your breasts.
4. Back, buttocks and backs of legs
You’ll need a handheld mirror along with a full-length mirror for this one. Move around so that you can check your whole back, buttocks and back of legs.
You could also ask a helper to check over for you, taking a photo with the Miiskin app to help you compare sessions at a later date.
5. Rest of legs, genitals, feet
Now sit down and use the handheld mirror to check your genitals. Then, check over the rest of your legs, the front and sides of your thighs and shins, right down to your ankles and feet. When checking your feet make sure to examine the area between the toes and toenails and take a look at the soles of your feet and heels, too.
Use this handy video on how to check your skin for signs of changes…
How often should I check my skin for signs of skin cancer?
Checking your skin is something you should do at regular intervals. Creating a skin checking routine is vital for early detection, and remember, the survival rate of melanoma is 98.3% if it is caught in its earliest stages. Some people may not need to check their skin so often, but for redheads, you should try to check on a monthly basis.
Effective, regular self-monitoring can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of moles, but new technology can help with the task. Miiskin takes photos and helps you compare them over time so you can assess for any changes, with its nifty push alerts reminding you when you need to check your skin again.
Ultimately, everyone is different and it’s important to become acquainted with your skin to know what’s healthy and normal for you. It should be noted that the Miiskin app does not diagnose skin cancer or tell you that you are at risk or not. The detection of skin cancer is far from simple and should only be undertaken by qualified doctors – not apps, so always consult your doctor if you have any concerns. Miiskin helps you to track your skin for changes on a regular basis, so that you can decide to seek medical help if you spot concerning changes.
And, as always, wear SPF. Getting sunburned can double your risk of getting skin cancer, so be sensible in the sun!
Miiskin is free to download at your App store by searching for ‘Miiskin – Melanoma Skin Cancer’. Miiskin also offers a premium subscription that allows you to securely back up your photos, take photos of your skin as a whole to watch out for new spots and also allows you to access your photos from any device to help you to better compare your photos side by side on a big screen. The premium version comes with a 30-day free trial, so you can try it out before you pay.
This article was written in partnership with Miiskin, but we only ever write about things we like and we believe will be of interest to our readers.