Practice Skintimacy™

Help find melanoma early

Read the signs on your skin

Know your skin well

Having an intimate relationship with your skin will make you more likely to notice any abnormal changes. Sometimes it might be difficult to see these changes on your skin, so get a friend, a loved one, or a mirror to help you with the hard-to-see places.

Check your skin every month

Practice Skintimacy™ by doing skin checks using the ABCDE's of melanoma

A skin check can help you find changes on your skin that could be a sign of melanoma. Melanoma can appear as:

  • A mole that looks very different from your other moles
  • A new mole that wasn’t there before
  • An existing mole that changed in colour or shape

How to do a skin check at home

Get started on your mole mapping journey with a few items found at home

Grab a ruler to measure the size of your mole, and a mirror to help you look at the hard-to-see-places. Now let’s get started!

sun icon

Find a well-lit room to do your skin check.

abcde icon

Use the ABCDE's of melanoma (below) as your guide, along with your ruler, comb, and mirror.

person icon

Check the front side of your body, including your:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Thighs
  • Lower legs

Turn your body sideways, raise your arms up, check your underarms and both the right and left side of your body.

mirror icon

Use a handheld mirror, and a comb to part your hair, to check your:

  • Scalp (skin on your head)
  • Back of your neck
  • Upper back
  • Lower back
  • Buttocks
  • Back of thighs
  • Calves
hand icon

Take a look at your:

  • Forearms
  • Palms
  • Back of the hands
  • Fingernails
  • Between your fingers
foot icon

Check your feet, including your:

  • Top of your feet
  • Bottoms (soles of your feet)
  • Toes and space between them
  • Toenails
repeat icon

Repeat every month.

Open quote icon

It's hard to spot melanoma because what you see on your skin doesn't give you the whole picture. I had the awareness to be mindful of any suspicious-looking moles, so when the mole on my right forearm changed, I knew it was time to get it checked out. So, my message to others is: watch those moles and be sure to look out for your loved ones, too. Don't underestimate the potential of a simple monthly routine like a skin check.

Close quote icon

Maureen

an ex-melanoma patient, now in remission.

Learn the ABCDE's of melanoma

A mole may be melanoma if it has any of these signs.

Write down any new changes to your skin and talk to your doctor.

asymmetry

Asymmetry

The shape of one half of the mole appears different than the other

borders

Borders

The edges of the mole are irregular, blurred, or ragged

colour

Colour

It’s unusual in colour, with different shades of tan, brown, black, or sometimes with blue, gray, red, pink, or white

diameter

Diameter

A mole that is greater than 6 mm from edge to edge

evolution

Evolution

A mole that changed over time or may be itchy, scaly, or bleeding

Protect your skin from UV overexposure

Protect your skin from the damage due to UV radiation to help lower your chance of getting melanoma.

  • Limit the time you’re in the sun during peak hours (11 AM -3 PM between March to October)
  • Cover your skin and wear UV-protected clothes, including broad brimmed hats
  • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50+, and re-apply every 2 hours
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps
  • Check your skin every month
  • Go to yearly skin check-ups with your doctor

Talk to your loved ones about melanoma

In a 2020 survey*, only about half (51%) of adult Canadians said they were knowledgeable about melanoma. And 55% of people did not know, or incorrectly identified, that small amounts of sun exposure without protection can lead to melanoma. To change this, we need to have conversations with our loved ones about the causes and risk factors of melanoma. The more you know, the better you can help protect yourself and your loved ones.

Find a dermatologist near you

Continue the conversation with your dermatologist to answer your questions about melanoma.

If you live in certain areas, you can get your moles screened at a mole mapping clinic. Mole mapping (also known as dermoscopy) uses a computer to find and take photos of your moles, in multiple visits, to monitor changes over time. You can visit a mole mapping clinic if you live in:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • New Brunswick
  • Ontario
  • Saskatchewan

Find rapid access clinics, mole mapping clinics, as well as other resources by clicking the button below.

Check out these resources

for more information on melanoma

Disclaimers and References:

Photographs of skin used throughout the site do not depict melanoma. Speak to a healthcare practitioner if you are concerned about any of your moles.

*The survey was conducted by Leger et al, in March 2020 in collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. and Save Your Skin Foundation.

  1. Canadian Dermatology Association. Melanoma. Available at: https://dermatology.ca/public-patients/skin/melanoma/. Last accessed April 14, 2023.

  2. Melanoma Canada. Available at: https://www.melanomanetwork.ca/. Last accessed April 14, 2023.

  3. Canadian Cancer Society. Available at: https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/skin-melanoma/finding-cancer-early. Last accessed May 27, 2023.

  4. Melanoma Canada. Find A Dermatologist. Available at: https://www.melanomanetwork.ca/find-a-dermatologist-canada/. Last accessed May 8, 2023.