Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America? More than two million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and that number is steadily rising. There are more cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year than breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer combined. Skin cancer is also the most treatable cancer – if it’s caught early. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a mantra to encourage monthly at-home skin checks: “If you can spot it, you can stop it“.
At Pinnacle Dermatology in Birmingham, your skin is our top priority. We understand that prevention is the key to maintaining healthy skin. This starts with at-home skin checks. Keeping a close eye on your skin can help in catching any issues at an early stage. To schedule your consultation with one of our dermatologists, contact Pinnacle Dermatology today.
How Often You Should Do At-Home Checks?
It’s a good idea to do your skin checks enough that you quickly notice any changes in your skin. It doesn’t make sense to do them twice a year because you won’t know how long that mole has been shaped oddly. Experts say that monthly checks are frequent enough to swiftly notice any dangerous changes. If you or a family member has a history of skin cancer, your doctor might recommend more frequent checks.
What You Should Look For
There are three most common types of skin cancer, and all three types have different warning signs. Most warning signs are visible to the naked eye. Skin growths that change in size (usually getting bigger) and become pearly, black, brown/tan, translucent, or multicolored are usually indicative of cancer.
Moles, birthmarks, or other brown spots should always be closely and regularly monitored. Any increases in their size, thickness, texture, or shape should be reported to your doctor immediately. It’s also important to be seen immediately if they’re the same size or bigger than a pencil eraser or it appears after you turn 21.
Any spots that hurt, itch, scab, or bleed should be of concern and evaluated by one of our dermatologists. Any open sores that don’t heal within three weeks should also be seen quickly.
Head to Toe
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends doing a head-to-toe exam to find anything that might be cancerous. Start with your face and pay close attention to areas that are most prone to cancer like the lips, nose, and ears. You’ll need a hand mirror to check the backs of your ears. Check your scalp, too, particularly where your hair parts.
Move on to your hands, inspecting the skin between your fingers, too. Examine your wrists and work your way up to your shoulders. Don’t forget the undersides of your arms and your armpits. Look over your neck, chest, torso, and the undersides of your breasts. Don’t skip your back, especially your shoulders.
Work your way down your torso, buttocks, and legs, and finish with your feet. Don’t neglect the soles of your feet and between your toes.
With skin cancer being so treatable, it only makes sense to perform a simple five minute check to ensure your health. It only takes a few minutes every month to ward off a potentially deadly disease.