It is recommended that you see a dermatologist once a year to have your skin checked for any abnormal lesions or growths.
However, you should check yourself monthly for any changes to your skin, preferably after a shower, using a hand-held mirror, as well as a larger mirror you can use to see your reflection. This will make it easier for you to check for signs of melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer, and the most common form found among young people ages 15 to 29.
Use the ABCDE method – recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology – to check:
- Asymmetry– is the lesion irregular in shape?
- Borders– does it have uneven borders?
- Color– melanoma lesions may contain many shades of brown or black
- Diameter– melanoma lesions are often more than 5 millimeters in diameter (a little smaller than a pencil eraser)
- Evolution– a change in an existing mole’s size or shape may be a sign of melanoma
For more information about melanoma visit the Saint Peter’s Better Health Library.