Cosmopolitan (UK)

Your quick, easy guide to an at-home check-up


Black people are less likely to get skin cancer – but diagnoses still happen, and by then, the disease is usually in an advanced stage, meaning it’s more deadly and harder to treat. In an ideal world, we’d all have regular skin checks from a doctor, but

I get it. A global pandemic, fear and myths around access to dermatolog­ists are among the reasons people don’t get checked out. Which is why you should at least know how to check yourself each month at home, according to dermatolog­ist Dr Shani Francis.


Start by checking your face for anything new, changing or unusual (think: a wart or scab that won’t heal, a bump that’s grown in size, or moles that are darker than other moles you might have). Include your lips, mouth, nose and behind your ears. Use a full-length mirror and a hand mirror to get an extra clear look.


Don’t forget about your scalp. Grab a hairdryer to move your hair out of the way and thoroughly inspect each part. If you’re rocking a protective hairstyle – and depending on how long it is – this method won’t be as easy. Ask your hairstylis­t to give your scalp a good check before they start styling your hair.


Keep moving your body, making sure you check everything, from under your fingernail­s to the soles of your feet. Sounds weird, but the proportion of skin cancers that occur in non-sun-exposed sites is actually greater in population­s with darker skin, which is why you have to be thorough.


If you see anything on your skin getting darker, changing in size or shape, itching or bleeding, make an appointmen­t to get it checked out by a pro ASAP. If booking an in-person appointmen­t isn’t possible, schedule a virtual consultati­on.


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