Skin Self-Exam (SSE)
DefinitionA skin self-exam (SSE) is an examination of your skin that you do for yourself . It is a way for you to notice any changes or abnormalities in your skin. It is a good way to spot skin cancer early. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that you do an SSE every month. You should also have a clinical cancer-related checkup with your doctor during your periodic health exams.
Steps for a Skin Self-ExamThe best time to do a SSE is after a shower or bath. Make sure the room is brightly lit. If you need to, ask a friend or partner to help you with areas that are hard to see.
- Look at your body-front and back-in the mirror. Lift your arms and check your left and right sides.
- Make sure you check your whole body thoroughly, not missing any areas.
- Become familiar with your body. It is important to know where your moles, birthmarks, and blemishes are and what they usually look like.
- Bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, upper arms, and hands. Make sure to check the undersides of these areas as well.
- Look at the back and front of your legs and feet. Do not forget between your toes and the soles of your feet.
- Check your face, the front and back of your neck, and your scalp using a hand mirror. Part your hair for a closer look.Most people have a lot of trouble looking at their own scalp. If your hair is long, using a hair dryer to blow it out of the way may make seeing the scalp easier.
- Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
American Academy of Dermatology.
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Dermatology Association
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How do I check my skin? American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/understanding-skin-cancer/how-do-i-check-my-skin. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Skin cancer prevention and early detection. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003184-pdf.pdf. Accessed March 25, 2014.
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- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 04/2014
- Update Date: 03/25/2014