Skin exams are a visual inspection of the entire body for suspicious growths, moles or lesions using a bright light and sometimes a magnifying glass for a closer look. Even the scalp is checked out by parting sections of hair to get a good look.

You should have a skin exam if you have:
- Suspicious moles or skin lesions
- Symptoms of early skin cancer
- A history of previous skin cancer
- 50 or more moles
- Atypical (unusual) or large moles
- A family history of skin cancer

Other signs of melanoma in a mole include changes in:

- Elevation, such as thickening or raising of a previously flat mole.
- Surface, such as scaling, erosion, oozing, bleeding, or crusting.
- Surrounding skin, such as redness, swelling, or small new patches of color around a larger lesion (satellite pigmentations).
- Sensation, such as itching, tingling, or burning.
- Consistency, such as softening or small pieces that break off easily (friability).

Other signs of Skin Cancer Includes:

- A firm, transparent bump laced with tiny blood vessels in thin red lines (telangiectasias).
- A reddish or irritated patch of skin.
- A new, smooth skin bump (nodule) with a raised border and indented center.
- A smooth, shiny, or pearly bump that may look like a mole or cyst.
- A shiny area of tight-looking skin, especially on the face, that looks like a scar and has poorly defined edges.
- An open sore that oozes, bleeds, or crusts and has not healed in 3 weeks.
- A persistent red bump on sun-exposed skin.
- A sore that does not heal or an area of thickened skin on the lower lip, especially if you smoke or use chewing tobacco, or your lips are exposed to the sun and wind.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommend that people perform a skin self-exam once a month.