Skin cancer can pop up at any time of the year, not just summer. So in-between skin checks and following big sun burns (because, let’s be honest, we’ve all had them) how can we become experts in checking our own skin for signs of change? The Cancer Council gives us some fantastic pointers on how we can do this. Let’s go through them!

Where to check

First of all, we need to know where specifically on our body we need to check. Top to bottom, these are the 6 main categories of where to check for changes in moles, or moles that have recently appeared:

  • Face and scalp
  • Neck and shoulders
  • Front and back of arms (include armpits)
  • Front and back of hands (include between fingers and under fingernails)
  • Legs
  • Soles of feet and between toes

For areas hard to see have a mirror handy or ask a friend/family member to check for you eg; for your scalp and back of neck.

What to check for

Now that you know where to check, what are you looking for specifically? The three main types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are each characterized by the following:


  • “Appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in colour, size or shape”
  • “Can appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun.”

Nodular Melanoma

  • “Grows quickly
  • Even in colour and raised from your skin
  • “Many are red or pink; some are brown or black”
  • “They are firm to touch and dome-shaped
  • “After a while, they begin to bleed and crust.”

BCC (Basal cell carcinoma)

  • “Red, pale or pearly in colour, appears as a lump or dry, scaly area.
  • “May ulcerate or fail to completely heal.”
  • “Grows slowly, usually on areas that are often exposed to the sun.”

SCC (Squamous cell carcinoma)

  • “A thickened, red scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.”
  • “Grows over some months, usually on areas often exposed to the sun.”

For images to get an idea of what each type could look like visit And for a helpful acronym to remember how to identify changing or odd spots visit our article ‘How to identify concerning spots‘.

Tips to keep in mind

While checking your skin here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

  • Completely undress
  • Have good lighting
  • Check all parts of your body (even parts that aren’t necessarily exposed to the sun) – “skin cancers can sometimes occur on parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, between fingers and toes and under nails”
  • Get to know your skin regularly so that it is easier to quickly identify changes. “Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt” so don’t think just because you can’t feel it, it isn’t there.

You can do it!

You can be vigilant in checking your skin! Remember, if there is anything that concerns you about your skin, here at Qutis you can book in for individual spot checks where a doctor can take a look at something you may have noticed. Also, just because you are checking your own skin regularly, it is still important to have a regular skin check with your doctor. Ask them how often your skin checks should be based on your skin type. Happy checking!