Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Limit sun exposure. Attempt to avoid the sun's
intense rays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Apply sunscreen frequently. Use a sunscreen with sun protection factor
(SPF) of at least 15 both before and during sun exposure. Select products that
block both UVA and UVB light. The label will tell you.
If you are likely to sunburn, wear long sleeves and a
Avoid artificial tanning booths.
Conduct periodic skin self-examinations.
Monthly self-examination improves your chances of finding a skin cancer early, when it has done a minimum of damage to your skin and can be treated easily. Regular self-exam helps you recognize any new or changing features.
The best time to do a self-exam is right after a
shower or bath.
Do the self-exam in a well-lighted room; use a
full-length mirror and a handheld mirror.
Learn where your moles, birthmarks, and blemishes
are, and what they look like.
Each time you do a self-exam, check these areas for changes in size, texture, and color, and for ulceration. If you notice any changes, call your primary-care provider or dermatologist.
Check all areas of your body, including "hard-to-reach" areas. Ask a loved one to help you if there are areas you can't see.
Look in the full-length mirror at your front and your
back (use the handheld mirror to do this). Raise your arms and look at your
left and right sides.
Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms,
your forearms (front and back), and upper arms.
Examine the backs and fronts of your legs. Look at
your buttocks (including the area between the buttocks) and your genitals (use
the handheld mirror to make sure you see all skin areas).
Sit down and examine your feet carefully, including
the soles and between the toes.
Look at your scalp, face, and neck. You may use a comb or blow dryer to move your hair while examining your scalp.