Who said that a doctor’s clinic is the only place to diagnose health problems? Well, your bathroom can be your own examination room. The next time you come out of the shower, take the time to do some homework! Self-tests performed when you are naked can be life-saving. All it takes is some stripping down.
Step 1: Remove your shirt
A simple self-exam can uncover something called acanthosis nigricans (a skin condition commonly caused by elevated levels of insulin) long before a doctor even asks you for a lab test. This condition leads to multiplication of skin cells and more production of melanin. So, the next time you remove your shirt, be sure to check for dark, velvety patches of thicker skin around your neck and armpits. Even if there is no burning or itching sensation, do not ignore this symptom! The changes in your skin could be indicative of type 2 diabetes.
Step 2: Remove your jeans
If those extra kilos are too stubborn to go down on the scale, don’t blame your diet before doing a self-exam for your knees after your remove those jeans tonight. If you find dry, flakey skin that doesn’t seem to get better - even with the help of a moisturizer - you might be able to blame it on your thyroid gland. Under activity of a thyroid gland leads to thyroid hormone deficiency that manifests itself through extreme dryness in knees, elbows, hair, and nails. Watch out!
Step 3: Ladies: Remove your bra
Breast self-examinations need to be performed monthly by all women over 20 years of age. It is preferable to do it a few days after your period ends. To do so, stand facing your bathroom mirror and compare both breasts, checking for differences in size, redness, and swelling, in addition to nipple inversion, discharge, bulging, or dimpling. Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides, arms overhead, with hands on hips, and bent forward. Next, move around each breast in a circular pattern from the outer edge towards the nipple in an up and down vertical line pattern (using soft pad of your 3 middle fingers) or using the wedge pattern. Repeat the same procedure with one arm behind your head. Take note of any lumps or other abnormalities.
Step 4: Gentlemen: Remove your boxers
A monthly self-exam for testicles is crucial for all males 14 years and older. It can be your only way to identify testicular cancer at an early curable stage. Here’s how to do it! After taking a warm bath (heat relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to spot abnormalities), stand in front of your bathroom mirror and check for any swelling on the scrotal skin. Examine each testicle with both hands. Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers -- you shouldn't feel any pain when doing the exam. Don't be alarmed if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other - that's normal. Check for key signs such as enlargement of a testicle, a significant loss of size in one of the testicles, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, or a collection of fluid in that area.
Waiting and hoping for symptoms to disappear on their own is not a smart strategy. Even if some symptoms do disappear for a while, this does not mean they can be ignored. Remember, sometimes our bodies do not give us second chances. For this reason, whenever in doubt of any abnormalities, your physician is the right person to talk to!