Skin self-examination is very important and a good habit would be to do it every month. A hand mirror will be handy to look at the hard to reach places including the scalp and genital areas. If someone can aid you in the exam this will help a lot and if you have longer hair they can use a comb and hairdryer to examine the scalp more thoroughly. Do not forget to look between your toes and on the bottoms of your feet and also examine your nails.
Most studies consider pigmented (colored e.g. brown) spots 2 mm. or bigger as a nevus or mole. Use the ABCDE's to assess these pigmented spots. On the nails, dark vertical lines would be suspicious.
Remember that skin lumps or pink spots could also be a concern. If you notice a spot that is irritated and you are not sure if it is an inflammatory or infective lesion (like a pimple) use anti-biotic ointment (e.g. Polysporin) on it for 1-2 weeks. If it does not heal completely or if you are unsure or concerned, you should see your doctor for assessment.
Keeping records on paper and if possible using photographs will enhance the usefulness of the exam and make your next exam more focused and efficient.
How Can Suspicious Moles Be Recognized?
Using the ABCDE rule can help you to recognize suspicious moles during self-evaluation. Moles which show one or more of the signs below should be treated with utmost attention and observed by your physician!
- A for Asymmetry
- B for irregular, Blurred or jagged Borders
- C for Color variation
- D for Diameter larger than 6mm
- E for Evolving, any change - in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait