Having at one time been a professional sun-tanner, I have endured the indignity of having full body screenings to check for skin cancer. Having grown up a bit from my deep tropical tanning days, I am now careful to use sunscreen and to watch myself for any changes that could develop into something scary. It made me think that some folks might be too embarrassed to go to the doctor… how do you get around that?

Well, a new, totally free app called UMSkinCheck (developed at the University of Michigan Health System) allows users to create photographic baselines of their very own skin by taking pictures of suspicious moles and things, and then having the app lead them through a very private skin self-exam and, if you’re not sure what your skin cancer risk may be, the app even includes a risk calculator, that utilizes your specific input in order to determine your individual risk profile.

The app also sends us automatic reminders so we can remember to monitor any changes to our skin and it provides pictures of the various types of dreaded skin cancers so we can have a better idea of what we may be dealing with and if a mole appears to be changing or growing, the photos can then be shared with a dermatologist to help determine whether or not a biopsy is necessary.

With more than 2 million Americans being diagnosed with skin cancer every year, regular skin checks can be a tremendous aid in helping people discover it in its earliest stages. The app is free and is designed for both the iPhone and the iPad and is available to download on iTunes.

Yes, I know there’s no substitute for good medical care, but if this encourages someone to check themselves that normally wouldn’t have, thats still a very good thing in my book, but please, don’t post the pictures on Facebook… I find I’m just not that open-minded anymore.

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