Your skin is a remarkable organ that’s constantly replenishing and repairing itself. In fact, it’s estimated that the human body sheds up to 40,000 dead skin cells every single minute. That’s almost too many to comprehend. As amazing as human skin is, though, it’s not impervious to damage. There are many things that can potentially harm your skin, including poor dietary choices, UV rays and cancer cells.
Skin cancer affects millions of people, and approximately 9,500 more are diagnosed with it every day. It’s the most common cancer in the United States and can affect anyone, regardless of age or race. If detected early, the survival rate is very good for the two most common types of skin cancer, squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. That’s why it’s important to check your body regularly so you can detect potential skin issues early on. Here’s how often you should do a body check, where, and why.
Why Monthly Checks Are Recommended
Inspecting your body for unusual moles, skin darkening and other signs of cancer should be done at least once per month. You know your body better than anyone else, so you’re more likely to see change in skin color or mole shape before anyone else does. If you’re doing a thorough self-examination once per month, you’re more likely to notice potential problems before they become major health issues. Going longer than a month between body checks is not a good idea and could potentially give skin cancer more time to develop.
How To Do a Body Check
There’s no precise way to check your skin for unusual issues. The key is to make sure you can look at all areas of your body, including those that you don’t normally see. Mirrors can help you inspect your back and other hard-to-reach areas, while a blow dryer can help you see your scalp. If you notice a strange-looking mole on your back, shoulder, neck or any other areas that are difficult to see, get a friend to take a picture of the area in question for you. Photographs make it easy to keep track of any changes a mole makes month after month.
What To Look for
While it’s important to do regular body checks, they won’t help you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here are a few common signs of potential problems that require a doctor’s visit:
- Moles that change shape and/or color
- Scabs that won’t heal, even after weeks
- Unusual growths that keep reopening and bleeding
- Moles that appear pearly or have multiple colors
- Moles with irregular or jagged-looking edges
- Any moles that are larger than six millimeters or look much different from your other moles
Remember, it’s far better to make an appointment and be reassured there are no problems than it is to avoid making an appointment when you actually do have skin cancer.
Schedule Your Appointment
If you’re concerned about a mole or skin discoloration and want to receive a skin cancer screening, don’t delay. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are key to a good outcome. Call Windsor Dermatology today or schedule an appointment online.