Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in the United States. It is largely preventable, and if caught early, is usually curable. And, on top of it, redheads are more susceptible to melanoma. It’s crucial to protect your redhead skin year-round and get your skin checked by a dermatologist once a year. We suggest scheduling your dermatologist appointment after the summer months (usually around October) since you’ve been in the sun more in the past several months.
Did you also know you can spot skin cancer right at home? All you need are your eyes and a mirror. Many doctors recommend checking your skin about once a month. Here’s how to do a thorough skin self-exam right at home:
1. Stand in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror.
Check your entire front body including your face, neck, chest, belly, legs, arms and under your breasts. Don’t forget the tops of your palms, fingers, fingernails, toes, toenails and scalp.
The first time you examine your skin, spend time carefully going over the entire surface. Learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any changes next time. Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you.
2. Have a partner or friend check for areas you cannot see, like your back. If you’re by yourself, use a handheld mirror.
Don’t forget the backs of your ears, upper and lower back and back of the neck.
3. Take a picture of anything that looks spacious.
This will help you follow these areas closely to compare growth or discoloration.
4. Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if you spot any spacious freckles, moles or markings.*
Not sure exactly what you’re looking for? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- A new, expanding, or changing growth, spot, or bump on the skin
- A sore that bleeds and/or doesn’t heal after several weeks
- A rough or scaly red patch, which might crust or bleed
- A wart-like growth
- A mole (or other spot on the skin) that’s new or changing in size, shape, or color
- A mole with an odd shape, irregular borders, or areas of different colors
Use this helpful graphic to spot any spacious mole, blemish or freckle:
*If you’re looking at your skin (during a skin-self exam or at any other time) and see anything that concerns you, be sure to have it checked by a doctor.
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