How to Perform a Skin Self-Exam

What you’ll need: a bright light, full length-mirror, hand mirror, and hair dryer.

Download a printable body map, where you can keep track of skin changes or new growths that you find.

What to look for and note: freckles, moles, birthmarks, bumps, sores, scabs, open bleeding areas, and scaly patches. Note any visible changes in size, shape and/or color. Record any spots you did not see on previous exams. The best rule is if you find any significant changes or new growths, see your physician (ideally a skin expert).

  1. In front of the mirror, study your face, especially the nose, mouth, lips, and ears, front and back.
  2. Check your scalp with a hand mirror. Part your hair and if necessary, use the hair dryer to lift sections of your hair.
  3. Examine your palms, fingers, fingernails and front and back of forearms.
  4. Check the upper arms, including underside and underarms.
  5. Look at the neck, chest and torso; women should check under their breasts.
  6. Next, turn your back to the full-length mirror and use the hand mirror to examine the reflection of the back of your neck, shoulders and upper back. This is a good time to enlist a partner to be your second set of eyes.
  7. Use both mirrors to view the lower back, buttocks and back of legs.
  8. Sit down and use the hand mirror to examine your genitals. Look at the legs, especially the ankles, tops and undersides of feet and between the toes.

Skin Self-Exam

Published on November 16, 2015