How to Self-Check for Skin Cancer
Get to know your skin by checking it regularly. Particularly if you are over 50, have a family history of skin cancer or have had any bad sunburns as a child.

Our Guide to Check Your Own Skin for Skin Cancer

It is recommended that all New Zealanders get into the habit of checking their skin (preferably once every three months) so they can spot skin cancer early when there is a better chance of successful treatment. Ask your friend, use a mirror or ask a relative to look at the parts you can’t see. (If you can’t check your skin, ask your doctor’s practice nurse or the doctor.) It’s easy to check your skin and should only take 15- 30 minutes. Just follow these steps.


  • Check your whole body from head to toe, front, back and sides.
  • Your head and neck—don’t forget your scalp, ears, face and lips.
  • The trunk, front back and sides.
  • Your arms and hands, including nails.
  • The soles of your feet, between your toes and nails.
  • Check your buttocks and legs.

Here is a simple guide to help you check your skin and recognise the early signs of skin cancer:

    Scaly, itchy, bleeding, non-healing sores
    Changing Spots (size, shape or colour)
    Abnormal spots (different to others) or,
    New spots (up to 70 % of melanomas are new).
The more of the above SCAN features a spot or mole has the more concerning it may be. (e.g. a New mole that is Changing in appearance and that is Abnormal is one that should be checked by a doctor urgently.)

Most people have made all their moles by the time they are 40. A new mole after this age is more suspicious and the older you are the more suspicious a new mole is.

If you do find a spot or mole of concern, see your doctor for either a “spot check”, or a full skin check. Become familiar with the spots and moles on your skin. You should check your own, and/or your partner’s, skin regularly.

It’s your doctor’s job to diagnose skin cancer, but you will know better than anyone else if something on your skin is new or changing – two important early warning signs.

Remember – together with sun protection, early detection is your best defence against skin cancer. Search here for a doctor who has been specially trained and tested on their knowledge and skill in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment.

If you have any concerns and you live locally in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Te Puke or Rotorua, make an appointment to have a skin cancer check at Skinspots.