People should exam their skin once a month to check for signs and marks that may have recently appeared.
In addition to exam our own skin, an annual examination by a dermatologist is also recommended. People with a history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, should consult a dermatologist every six months or whenever a new lesion appears.
When doing your self-examination, it is best to use a mirror to see the back and other areas of the body you have difficulty seeing. Alternatively, you can ask for help from a family member. Colored signs (brown, black, white, red, pink or other colors) should be examined by following the so-called ‘ABCDE’ criteria:
A – Asymmetry. Benign skin signs are usually symmetrical, which means if you were to cut them in half, the two halves should be equal or very similar. If the lesion is asymmetrical, ask your dermatologist to look at it.
B – Borders. Benign moles and skin signs usually have a smooth and well-defined border. If you have a lesion with an irregular contour, ask your dermatologist to look at it.
C – Colors. Any injury that has more than 2 colors (brown, black, white, red, pink or other colors) should be assessed by your dermatologist.
D – Diameter. Lesions larger than 6 mm should be analyzed by your dermatologist.
E – Evolution. Lesions that change in some way (growing, bleeding, alterations to size, color or shape) should be analyzed by your dermatologist.
Furthermore, certain types of skin cancer may begin as reddened, pearly or scaly lesions that do not heal or go away with time. These lesions and any suspicious lesion should be evaluated by your dermatologist. When in doubt, consult your dermatologist. Also, consult your dermatologist before you even start your monthly self-examination.
It is important to use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 on a daily basis. If you are exposed to the sun for prolonged periods, reapply at least every 2 hours and every hour if you are in the water or sweating excessively, even if the sunscreen is “waterproof.”
Avoid sun or artificial tanning and sunburn, as they are associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, which is a deadly cancer. In addition, the sun and tanning machines age the skin, which is not good in the long term, if you want to keep your skin beautiful, youthful and healthy.
If you have any queries regarding SELF EXAM or about their use, consult a dermatologist.