June is an important time for men because it’s Men’s Health Month! Its main purpose is to bring awareness to health issues and diseases prevalent among men and encouraging early detection and treatment. This also includes skin health! And with it being a time where we are all out in the sun more, it’s very important to consistently check your skin for abnormal moles that could be cancerous or precancerous, especially if you’re over 45.
As we age, the risk for developing skin cancers and other skin concerns increases. And according to a UK study, if you’re diagnosed with a non-melanoma skin cancer between the ages of 45 – 59, your risk for other types of cancer, not just another form of skin cancer, goes up by 74%. Because of this, your health check routine should start by making sure your skin is healthy first.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you perform a skin check monthly to help identify any changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. If you do find something atypical, it’s important you see one of our West Dermatology board-certified dermatologists, who are specialists in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. They can then conduct a more thorough in-clinic or telehealth exam to determine whether or not the abnormality is potentially harmful.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHECKING YOUR SKIN FOR SKIN CANCER
First, don’t be alarmed if you find a mole or two (or more). A normal mole is smooth to the touch and has a consistent color, could be brown, black, or tan. It has a consistent border, as well, and is oval or round, and it could have a flat or raised profile.
An irregular mole that you should have examined more often has an irregular shape or jagged border. It’s rough to the touch and is often a combination of colors: various shades of brown throughout the lesion or a mixture of red, white, and/or blue.
In addition, make sure to check new spots or lesions, or look for older ones that have changed in color, shape, size, or texture. Also, be on the lookout for atypical sores, lumps, or blemishes, especially ones that crust over, bleed, itch, ooze, and itch as well as cause pain or are tender to the touch.
HOW TO PERFORM YOUR OWN SKIN CHECK
Although you can effectively perform your own skin check any time, doing so at shower or bath time is more convenient because you’ll already be naked. It doesn’t matter if it’s before or after, but looking at as much skin as possible is a must. If available, enlist the help of a partner, as a second pair of eyes is always a good idea to make sure nothing is missed, particularly on the scalp or back.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- A good, bright light
- A full-length mirror
- A hand mirror
- Two chairs and/or stools
- A brush and/or hairdryer
- Facing the full-length mirror, examine your lips, nose, mouth, forehead, ears, neck, shoulders, chest, arms, underarms, hands, palms, between the fingers, the fronts of the thighs, and the shins.
- Continue by bending your elbows to examine your forearms and the backs of your upper arms.
- Standing with your back to the full-length mirror and using the hand mirror, inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back, and any part of your upper arms that you could not clearly view earlier.
- Continue in this position by scanning your lower back, buttocks, and the upper part of the back of your legs.
- Check your scalp by parting your hair – with a brush and/or hairdryer, if necessary – as well as around and behind your ears.
- While sitting on a stool or chair, prop your feet up and check the backs of your calves as well as the tops and bottoms of your feet, including between the toes.
- Finally, still sitting, use the hand mirror to examine your genitalia and any parts of the buttocks or upper legs you may have missed.
Be sure to honor Men’s Health Month by making skin checks an important part of your skin health routine. If you find an irregularity or skin change that cannot be explained, contact us immediately to schedule a full, comprehensive skin exam. In addition to performing your skin check monthly, it’s important to schedule an annual skin check with our dermatologists. Don’t wait – it could save your life.