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Spotting Skin Cancer: 10 Places You Need to Check

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Checking for Skin Cancer: 10 Places You Need to Look PS Productions/PhotoSpin

Spending time in the sun can put your skin at increased risk for melanoma or other types of skin cancer. But don’t think the parts of your body that don’t get much sun are safe.

Be aware of these 10 locations skin cancer may be hiding, and make sure you and your dermatologist look at all of them.

1) Under your hair

Skin cancer may be hiding on your scalp, either where your hair is parted or under your hair. It can also hide on your neck, especially if you have long hair.

2) On your eyelids

Between 5 percent and 10 percent of all skin cancers are found on the eyelid.

3) Behind an ear

Melanoma can hide behind your ear or under the hair on the side of your head.

4) On your lips

If you have a sore that looks like a canker sore but lasts longer than two weeks, have it checked by your health care provider or dentist.

5) Under your arms

When melanoma spreads, it often ends up in the lymph nodes which are under the skin in your armpit. Skin cancer can also develop on the skin under the arms.

6) Under your nails

Changes in the pigment under your fingernails or toenails may be a warning sign of skin cancer. Make sure your nails are clean and polish-free so your doctor can check them.

7) On your butt

You can’t see it for yourself without a mirror. So make sure your dermatologist checks your backside.

8) On your groin

Don’t be shy about taking off your underwear for a skin check.

9) Between your toes

When sandals come out for summer, your toes get plenty of sunshine. Be sure to check between your toes and on the bottoms of your feet.

10) Under tattoos

Getting a tattoo is not known to increase your risk of skin cancer. But a tattoo that covers a mole may mask changes in the mole that are the early warning signs of skin cancer. So avoid covering moles with a tattoo.

If you see any changes in your tattoo or the skin under the tattoo, be sure to have it checked by your doctor right away.

The American Academy of Dermatology reports that one out of every five people in the United States will develop skin cancer. Early detection is critical because effective treatments are available for skin cancer that is caught early.

Pay attention to your own skin and be sure to report any changes in moles or other skin growths to your health care provider. Remember the ABCDEs of melanoma as you check your skin:

A – Asymmetry
Normal moles look symmetrical, which means the two sides match each other. Asymmetry or mismatched sides can be a warning of melanoma.

B – Border
A normal or benign (non-cancerous) mole has smooth borders. Melanoma has uneven or ragged edges.

C – Color
Normal moles are usually all one color. Melanoma may appear speckled or have different shades of brown, tan or black. Melanoma may also have patches of red, white or blue.

D – Diameter
Normal moles are usually smaller than a pencil eraser, which is about one-fourth of an inch across. Melanoma can grow to be larger, but may start out small.

E – Evolving
Normal moles show very little change over time. Any mole that changes, whether in size, shape, color, height (elevation above the skin) or sensation should be checked by your health care provider. Also have any new symptoms such as a spot that bleeds, itches or is crusty, and doesn’t heal, checked by your doctor.

You can perform your own monthly skin check to watch for the warning signs of melanoma, but a dermatologist is trained to recognize small clues that you might miss. So in addition to checking your own skin, schedule an annual appointment with a dermatologist as part of your regular health routine.


Total Beauty. 9 Sneaky Places Skin Cancer Hides. Hayley Mason. Web. July 6, 2015.

American Academy of Dermatology. Detect skin cancer. Web. July 6, 2015.

Skin Cancer Foundation. Do You Know Your ABCDEs? Web. July 6, 2015.

American Academy of Dermatology. Caring for tattooed skin. Web. July 6, 2015.

Reviewed July 15, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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