So the reason why we do skin inspections or skin checks, is because there are some skin cancers, or melanoma as they’re called, that can grow really rapidly or really slowly. Most people don’t know why it’s changing or how it’s changing or what even to look for. If you have risk factors such as family history of melanoma or skin cancers. Using tanning beds, but you have a lot of moles or a lot of funny-looking dots, as you grow older you’ll have a lot more coming up. Another risk factor, especially for transplant patients, is some of the medication that you might be using. It can decrease your immunity, and that can actually increase the risk of skin cancer. If you do see your moles that you normally are growing up with, and they start changing really quickly, or you notice that it’s funny-looking, that it’s really bothering you, there’s something about it that doesn’t seem quite right. Go to your family doctor, or your regular specialist, to take a look and address your concerns. If they’re not sure, this is when they actually will send a referral to a dermatologist that has a specialty in looking at the skin, and specifically funny-looking moles or melanoma. And the last thing that a dermatologist will review with you, is knowing the ABCDE’s of looking at your mole. So the ABCDE’s of skin checks are: “Asymmetry”. That basically means, is your mole looking basically round or oval, they look about the same, there’s nothing jutting out? So if it’s a circle, that there’s nothing like a spike coming straight out. “Border” is whether it’s irregular or regular. So regular, again, if it’s rounded, it has a nice smooth shape, as opposed to being very jagged along the edges. “Colour”. So moles are different on different skin types, so just be aware of what your skin type is. But, some of them can be brown, black, slightly red, it can be white. The concern here is, if you have different colours within your moles, and whether or not your family doctor, or your dermatologist especially, saying whether it’s worrisome or not. So if you have two or three different colours in there, then it’s something to check. “Diameter” is D. So diameter is basically the size of the mole. Usually 6 mm or more is something that we would check, and just check frequently and be concerned about. You may want to measure it, but then you can look at it by eye, and if it looks bigger than a ballpoint pen, then it’s something to take a look at. E is “Evolution”, or basically, is there a change from the last time you saw it? So remember, you won’t be able to see that change from day-to-day, week-to-week, or even month-to-month. You need to give yourself a little bit of a rest, and look at your skin every 3-4 months, and see if there’s any changes. If there are changes within that time, that’s another reason to go to your dermatologist. An easy way to remember, is remember the change of seasons. So if it’s springtime on the 21st-22nd, that’s the time to check your skin. Again in the summer, winter, and fall. So that’s the best way, if you don’t have anything to write on, that’s the best way to remember. If you like water-sports, winter sports, if you’re out during the spring and the fall, just make sure you protect yourself because those are the highest times where the sun is reflecting on your skin. And one of the easiest things to do is actually using an SPF sunscreen. You need to use a minimum of SPF 30. You need to learn how to apply it liberally, and continuously during the day. So in summary it’s very important for anyone, it doesn’t matter who it is, to do regular skin checks. So, be reassured that when you do this, even if you skip a month or two it’s not such a big deal. As long as you follow up with your family doctor or dermatologist, we can follow and see if there’s any changes. But this is your chance to be independent, and to be responsible for your own body.
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