Checking your skin and nails

As well as helping you to monitor your own skin for any changes, our leaflet gives you some key signs to look out for and an easy means of recording what you see.

By making regular observations you can help catch changes  early.

How do I check my moles?

Melanoma Focus recommends:

  • Creating a Mole Map and regularly checking your skin
  • Using a mirror, ruler, camera, notepad and if necessary a skin buddyfor those hard-to-see areas
  • Check your skin all over once a month and note the date
  • Use templates from our skin check leaflet to record the location, appearance and dimensions of each mole or skin lesion (patch, spot, lump or any other abnormal area of skin)
  • Take photos of your moles and any new marks or lesions
  • Dont forget under the arms, breasts, between fingers and toes, soles of your feet, palms of your hands, behind the ears and your scalp

For more information, we recommend this video on how to examine your skin

The ABCDE’F’ checklist

This is a useful checklist when looking at your skin. If any of your moles or lesions show the following – make an appointment to see your GP:

  • Asymmetry: two halves differ in shape

  • Border: edges irregular or jagged
  • Colour: uneven/patchy; shades of black, white, grey, brown or pink; two or more colours = suspicious
  • Diameter: for most melanomas, at least 6mm
  • Evolving: changing in size, shape or colour
  • ‘Funny’: if it looks odd, or you arent happy about it for any reason

While checklists are relevant for the most common form of melanoma, they are not completely reliable as melanoma can vary and may not show these features. Here are key signs to look our for:

  • Changed – it is new or seems to have changed since you last saw it (dont look for detail; you can see it has changed just by glancing at the lesion, thats enough)

  • Not going away – once a new lesion has appeared, it remains on the skin for longer than 6-8 weeks

  • Odd (the most crucial test) – it simply looks strange, worries you or seems to be different from other lesions on your skin, then you should get it looked at by a doctor, who may refer you to a specialist – usually a dermatologist

For more information, we also recommend this video, on the ABCDE skin check method

Remember, if in doubt, check it out!

If you would like to receive copies of our skin check leaflet for your clinic or an event, please contact: