May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month; Check Your Skin for Anything Unusual

Well, check you out! No, seriously. Take a look at your skin. Check it. All of it. See anything unusual? Any new spots? Any moles that look different than you remember?

Knowing how your skin normally looks is the first step to spotting a potential problem, and with May being Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, now is the perfect time. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Here are some great tips from UnitedHealthcare for checking your skin:

Take a good, long look.

The key to a good skin check is thoroughness. Inspect your skin on a regular basis. Area by area, look at your:

  • Trunk — front, back and both sides
  • Face, neck, ears and scalp
  • Fingernails, palms and upper and lower arms
  • Legs, buttocks and genital area
  • Feet, including toenails, soles and between the toes

Some areas, like the scalp, can be difficult to check by yourself. Use a handheld mirror for those hard-to-see areas — or ask a loved one to help you out.

Look for moles that are different or changing — or that itch or bleed. See your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Who’s looking?

Everyone should keep an eye out for skin changes. Fair-skinned people are at higher risk of skin cancer — but anyone can get it.

Let your doctor know if you have any of these risk factors:

  • A large number of moles — or large, flat moles with irregular shapes
  • Past sunburns, especially in childhood
  • A personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Prior artificial sunlight use, such as tanning beds

What to do next.

Learn how to recognize the signs of melanoma — the deadliest kind of skin cancer — at

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