How to Self-Check Your Skin

by Melissa Chichester

Your skin is your body’s largest organ.

It has many important jobs, such as protecting your internal organs, regulating your body temperature, and protecting your body from pathogens. 

Your skin can also reveal valuable clues about your internal health. For example, dry skin may be a sign of fatty acid deficiency. 

Taking care of your skin is an important part of your health. In addition, conducting a skin self-check can help you take your concerns and findings to your trusted physician. 

Here are 3 dermatologist-recommended tips for checking your skin from the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). 

#1. Use a full-length mirror and hand mirror

When checking your skin, it’s important that you can see all of it. You’re checking more than your face, arms, and legs. You’re looking everywhere, so use a full-length mirror. In addition, you’ll need a hand mirror for hard-to-see areas. 

#2. Check your body in segments

The AAD recommends examining your skin like this:

  • Underarms, forearms, and palms
  • Legs, between toes, and the soles of your feet
  • Neck and scalp
  • Back and buttocks

Don’t forget to check areas you may not think about, such as behind the ears and under the breasts if you’re a woman. 

#3 Make an appointment if necessary 

If you find something that seems out of the ordinary, make an appointment to visit your physician or a dermatologist. 

During your skin exam, look for

  • New spots you have not seen before
  • Skin changes
  • Itching or bleeding
  • Crusty, scaly patches
  • Sores or cuts that are slow to heal
  • Wart-like growths
  • Moles that have changed in size, shape, or color – the AAD even has a useful body mole map you can use to check moles

>>Understanding Skin: Men Versus Women

What to do after your skin self-check

After checking your skin, you may have questions for a dermatologist or your personal physician. Here are some important questions to consider:

  • Does this mole or spot need testing?
  • Is my skin aging well?
  • Are there any skin procedures or treatments you recommend?
  • What products can I use to nourish my skin?
  • What is my skin type?
  • How can I improve the health of my skin with lifestyle changes?

Conducting a skin self-check and following up with a doctor are great first steps to paying more attention to your skin health. And when you improve your skin health, you can also improve other parts of your well-being.