Important Message from The Joint Chiropractic regarding COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - Read More

Self Check: Skin, the Biggest Organ You Have

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Genevieve Cunningham

Self Check: Skin, the Biggest Organ You Have

Love the skin you’re in. Beauty is only skin deep. Good skin is the best foundation. You’ve heard these well-known sayings about the body’s biggest organ. You’ve seen the TikTok videos about skin care. You’ve been told of the importance of sunscreen in order to protect it. The skin is a big deal, and our obsession with keeping the skin glowing and healthy is only growing.

But even with our growing concern with all things skincare, are we taking it seriously enough? After all, the skin is more than just a covering. It's a reflection of our overall health. And yet, it’s often overlooked until a very serious problem arises. How do we stay healthy and self-aware? Skin checks -- and they're probably easier than you think.

Understanding Your Skin's Risk

Anyone can develop skin cancer. Like all other cancers, skin cancer isn't fully understood. We don't know why some people develop it and others don't. But also like other cancers, there are risk factors that may play a bigger role. If you fall into one or more of these categories, self-checks of your skin may be even more important.

  • Family history - If anyone in your family has a history of skin cancer, you may be at higher risk.
  • Tanning bed use - If you lived through the tanning bed days and you partook in the tanned craze, you may need to be extra vigilant. Using tanning beds comes with a severely heightened risk of developing skin cancer in your lifetime.
  • Excessive sun exposure - Even if you avoided the tanning bed, your risk is higher if you got excessive sun exposure as well, especially if it was sans sunscreen. If you can remember days at the beach, sunburns that sting, or laying out with the intention of tanning, you definitely need to have skin checks in your routine.
  • Fair skin - Although anyone can develop skin cancer, fair skin is at higher risk.

These are only some of the risk factors that contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer. The truth is that anyone can develop skin cancer. If you have skin, you need to get to know it and keep an eye on it. Any changes or new spots on your skin should be noticed, monitored, and brought to your doctor’s attention.

How to Self-Check

Any kind of self check can be intimidating. What should I do? What if I miss something? Checking your skin is a lot easier than you think. All you’ll really need is a good light, a full length mirror, and a camera in case you need to monitor changes. Here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind when you check your skin.

  • Check from head to toe - Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, even the fingernails and toenails. You’ll need to check from the top of your head to the tops of your toes, and you’ll need to do it thoroughly.
  • Take pictures when necessary - If you notice a spot that you find suspicious, grab your phone and take a picture. The next time you check your skin, take another picture for comparison.
  • Ask for help in the hard to reach places - If you have spots you can’t see, such as the back of your head, ask for help. A family member, best friend, or even your doctor can help you check the spots that aren’t so easy to see.

What Am I Looking For?

Although a lot of people are willing to check their skin on a regular basis, they don’t really know what they're looking for. We’re looking for changes in the skin, of course, but what kind? And why? You’ll want to take note of the following kinds of changes.

  • New spots - Most people are done gaining new moles by the time they reach adulthood. If you notice a new growth or spot, pay attention.
  • Current spots that are changing - Even if a spot isn’t news, you’ll need to watch for spots that change in color or size. Moles and freckles shouldn’t change much. If they do, you’ll need to bring it up to your doctor.
  • Sores that won’t heal - Most spots on your skin are benign and will heal quickly. If a spot refuses to heal, it could be a problem.
  • Spots that itch, bleed, or ooze - An injury might itch or bleed while it’s healing. Once it’s healed, it should go away. If it doesn’t, it may need special attention.

Now that we know what we’re looking for, we need to know why. What do changing spots mean, exactly? While most spots on your skin are innocent, one unhealthy spot could completely transform your skin. Doctors are on the lookout for three certain kinds of skin cancer.

  • Basal cell carcinoma - This is a type of skin cancer that is most commonly found in the areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun. Think backs of hands, arms, neck, and face. It may often present as a waxy bump or a sore that won’t heal. This kind of skin cancer is extremely common but also treatable, especially when found early.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma - Anyone can develop this kind of skin cancer, but it’s most commonly found in people with darker skin. It is most commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the skin, but it might be found in other areas as well.
  • Melanoma - This kind of skin cancer is the least likely to be found but also the most deadly. It’s especially resistant to treatment in the later stages, which makes early detection a literal lifesaver. Melonoma might be a dark spot on the skin, a mole or freckle that changes, an irregular flat spot, a sore that won’t heal, or a dark line down a finger or toenail. When in doubt, get it checked.

If you find a suspicious spot, head to your dermatologist to get checked out. Your doctor may want to do a skin biopsy to check for these dangerous situations. Once you have a diagnosis, you can develop a plan of action to get you back on the road to your best health.

How to Protect Your Skin

Self-checks are extremely important, but they’re not the only way to protect your skin. The number one rule of skin care is to wear sunscreen every day. This includes on cloudy days, days when you’re not directly in the sun, and days when it’s raining. The sun’s rays are always a risk. The easiest way to do this is to make it a part of your routine. Shower, dry off, moisturize, sunscreen. Simple.

You can also take care of your skin by layering up, staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, and exfoliating dead skin. Your skin is your body’s biggest organ. Are you treating it that way? Love the skin you’re in—and do it right. Love it by keeping it healthy, watching for changes, and getting on top of your skin health starting right now.

Download your offer today and save!

$29 New Patient Special, Consultation | Exam | Adjustment

Offer valued at $45. Valid for new patients only. See clinic for chiropractor(s)' name and license info. Clinics managed and/or owned by franchisee or Prof. Corps. Restrictions may apply to Medicare eligible patients. Individual results may vary.