DIY Skin checks 

Don’t rely on your own annual skin check. It’s vital that you examine your own skin, to assist with early detection.

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.  It's important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you, so that you notice any changes. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt.

Perform a 3 monthly skin check on yourself to look for any new spots or changes to existing freckles or moles: 

  • Undress completely and make sure you have good light.

  • Use a mirror to check hard to see spots, like your back and scalp, or get a family member, partner or friend to check it for you


  • Make sure you check your entire body as skin cancers can sometimes occur in parts of the body not exposed to the sun, for example soles of the feet, between fingers and toes and under nails.


What to look for?   

  • ​Any crusty sores that won’t heal

  • Small red, pale or pearly lumps

  • Any new spots, freckles or moles that change in colour, size, shape or thickness over a period of weeks to months

  • Particularly look for any spots that are dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour

How to look? 

It’s easy to perform the check yourself or with a close family member, partner or friend.  You should check your face, neck and ears, scalp, front and back of torso, buttocks, arms, legs, hands, palms, feet, soles, and between fingers and toes, and finger and toe nails. It may help to use a hand-held mirror to help you look in the areas, such as your back and scalp, which you often cannot see.  

Who is at risk? 

You have a greater risk of developing skin cancer if you have:

  • spent your childhood in Australia

  • a large number of moles

  • ever suffered from sunburn

  • fair skin that burns easily and does not tan

  • blue or green eyes

  • fair or red hair

  • been diagnosed with a melanoma in the past

  • a family history of melanoma

*Source: Cancer Council Australia (