How to perform a mole exam

Written by
Toby Nelson
Published on
July 3, 2023

Performing a regular body mole exam is an important practice to monitor your skin for any changes that may indicate potential skin issues, including skin cancer. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to perform a body mole exam:


1. Choose a well-lit room: Find a room with good lighting, preferably natural light, to perform the examination. A full-length mirror, a handheld mirror, and a chair or stool will be helpful.

2. Undress completely: Remove all your clothing to allow a thorough examination of your entire body. You may want to wear a robe or towel around you for privacy when moving from one area to another.

3. Start with your face and scalp: Examine your face, including your nose, lips, mouth, and ears. Use a handheld mirror to examine your scalp, parting your hair to get a clear view.


4. Move to your neck and chest: Use the mirror to inspect the front and sides of your neck. Then, face the mirror and check your chest, starting from the collarbone and moving downward.


5. Examine your arms: Look at the front and back of your upper arms, forearms, and hands. Don't forget to check between your fingers and under your fingernails.


6. Inspect your torso: Stand with your back to the mirror and use the handheld mirror to examine your back and the back of your neck. Next, raise your arms and examine the underarm areas. Finally, check your abdomen and sides.


7. Focus on your lower body: Sit on the chair or stool and examine your thighs, legs, and feet. Lift each foot to check the soles and the spaces between your toes.


8. Use a body map: Consider using a body map to keep track of moles and note any changes over time. You can find printable body maps online or use a smartphone app specifically designed for this purpose.


During the examination, pay attention to the ABCDE rule for melanoma:


- Asymmetry: If one half of the mole does not match the other half.

- Border: If the edges are irregular, blurred, or poorly defined.

- Colour: If the mole has multiple colors or unusual shades.

- Diameter: If the mole is larger than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser).

- Evolution: If the mole changes over time in size, shape, colour, or texture.


If you notice any moles or spots that seem suspicious or have changed, make an appointment with a dermatologist for further evaluation. Regular self-exams should be performed at least once every three months, and it's also recommended to have a professional skin check once a year.

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