4 Surprising Spots You Need to Check for Skin Cancer
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone — regardless of skin tone — should perform head-to-toe self examinations of their skin, in addition to making a yearly dermatologist appointment for a professional full-body check. For most people, monthly self-exams are ideal, but more frequent checks may be necessary for some. These are imperative to check for any new or changing moles, lesions or markings that could be precancerous or cancerous because skin cancer is highly treatable when it’s detected early. Simply put, this minor time investment of about ten minutes a month could save your life.
Once you have some bright lights and mirrors handy, you can start your self-exam. While your first instinct may be to only check areas that are most often exposed to sunlight, remember that sun damage from UV radiation is not the only factor that can increase your risk for developing skin cancer. In addition to checking easy-to-see (and sun-exposed) skin — think: face, chest, and arms — you’ll want to scan some unexpected areas that rarely see the light of day.
On Your Scalp
The scalp is often a forgotten area when it comes to skin checks — but cancerous lesions can be hidden underneath hair, making them more difficult to spot. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends thoroughly inspecting your scalp using a blow dryer, comb, and mirror to expose each section of skin beneath your strands. Ask a friend or family member for help if you need it, or if you see the same hairdresser on a regular basis, consider asking them to point out any abnormal spots or lesions on your scalp. And don't forget to apply SPF on your scalp — we like COOLA Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30.
Under Your Nails
Dermatologists recommend removing all nail polish prior to checking your skin because skin cancer can appear on the skin under your nails. Check your hands carefully — palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Don’t neglect the tips of your fingers when applying SPF prior to UV exposure — especially before a gel manicure, too.
Behind Your Ears
Skin cancer can occur behind the ears and even in the ear canal. Before you write off a new lesion as a little bit of crustiness, evaluate it further. Use a full-length mirror and a hand mirror to get a clear view, and if it doesn’t scrub away or you simply aren’t sure, have a professional take a look.
On the Bottoms of Your Feet and Between Your Toes
If you’re not a fan of pedicures, you may never take a look at the skin around your toes. But let this be your reminder to examine your feet because skin cancer can appear between toes and on the soles of feet. Also, keep an eye out for any dark spots or sores that aren’t healing and be sure to consult your doctor as that can be a sign of other medical issues aside from skin cancer.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn