Skin Health Check Can Save Your Life
Understanding skincare ingredients that you use every day is certainly important. However, an actual skin health check goes way beyond beauty and looking great–it can save your life. Incorporating an at-home self-examination can alert you to changes in your skin and help you find suspicious moles and lesions. These can be early warning signs of skin cancer and can let you know when it’s time to see a dermatologist.
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. A skin health check is an easy step to take, but it can make a huge difference. Early detection is often the key to successful treatment or prevention. Luckily, you can perform a skin health check at home, and it only takes about five minutes! Doctors recommend following the ABCDE guidelines while checking moles and lesions: Asymmetry, Borders, Color, Diameter, and Evolution. Read on to find out what these mean for your skin health check:
1 | Asymmetry
The first thing to look for in your skin health check is asymmetry. If you find a mole or other lesion, check to see if it’s symmetrical (meaning one half matches the other). If so, there’s not much cause for concern. If you do notice that you have an asymmetrical mole, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a dermatologist.
2 | Borders
In addition to asymmetry, you should also not the borders of any mole or lesion. Healthy moles tend to have clearly defined borders, whereas unhealthy lesions and moles tend to fade into surrounding skin at the edges. If the borders of a mole seem “fuzzy” or uneven, it’s probably a good idea to get it checked out by your doctor.
3 | Color
Color is also a strong indicator when it comes to a skin health check. Healthy moles or freckles tend to be uniform in color, either tan, brown, flesh-colored. Abnormal moles and freckles, on the other hand, may have varied or unusual colors. Look for moles that contain red, blue, or black coloration.
4 | Diameter
Typically, moles and freckles tend to be relatively tiny. Abnormal moles and lesions, on the other hand, can grow to larger sizes. Many abnormal moles tend to be larger than ¼ inch. There can be exceptions to this guideline, however: some large moles are completely normal, while some smaller ones can exhibit other abnormal characteristics.
5 | Evolution
The last factor to note during your skin health check is whether moles or lesions have changed, grown, or begun to exhibit any abnormal characteristics. A mole that starts to itch or crust, for example, should be examined by a doctor. Changes in a mole’s elevation can also be a warning sign.
While the ABCDE list provides general guidelines, there are many other factors to examine during a skin health check. If something seems strange during a routine skin health check, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor. Early detection and prevention can save lives!
During a skin health check, it’s also important to keep an eye on spots you might not think of. Experts say you should pay particular attention to fingers and toes, as well as your shoulders and neck. Palms and soles of your feet are also frequently-missed spots where melanoma can develop. Be thorough, and remember ABCDE every time you perform an at-home skin health check. And of course, if you see something that worries you, talk to a dermatologist or your primary care physician!