The Skin Self-Exam You’re Not Doing


When it comes to skin cancer, the best treatment method is a thorough prevention and early detection strategy. While regular visits to your dermatologist can be a key aspect of maintaining great skin health, there are also easy ways you can monitor your skin’s health at home. The following are the more common cancerous and precancerous conditions you should be looking for on your skin.

Basal Cell Carcinomas

Basal cell carcinomas are growths or lesions that most commonly appear on your head, neck, shoulders, back, and arms. This is the most common type of cancer.

Look for any of the following:

  • White, waxy areas that may resemble a scar
  • Raised, red patches of skin
  • Small pearly bumps that may be red or pink in color, possibly with patches of brown or black
  • Open sores that don’t heal
If you’re not doing regular self-exams of your skin, you could be putting yourself at risk for letting skin cancer go undetected.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Squamous cell carcinomas are similar to basal cell carcinomas, but may more closely resemble wart-like, crusty or scaly growths. These also tend to be more prevalent on areas of the body that are easily exposed to the sun, but they can occur anywhere on the body.

Sometimes, squamous cell carcinomas can start out as actinic keratosis, which are premalignant lesions that require close monitoring and treatment. Actinic keratoses are characterized by small rough or scaly spots that are usually pink or red.

Irregular Moles

In addition to basal and squamous cell carcinomas, it’s important to regularly check and record any moles on your body, especially ones that stand out. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you look for the ABCDEs of melanoma: asymmetry, irregular borders, non-uniform color, large diameter and evolution or changes in appearance.