How to Take Pictures of Your Skin for Your Healthcare Provider

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Time to Read: About 4 minutes

This information will help you take pictures of your skin, wound, mole, or incision (surgical cut). It explains how to send them to your healthcare provider.

Sending clear pictures will help your healthcare provider see how you’re healing. They will show if there are any problems with the area. You may need to have someone help you take these pictures.

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Take Pictures from 3 Different Views

Take your pictures from 3 different views. This helps your healthcare provider see and understand the size of the area.

Picture 1

Figure 1. Examples of pictures from 4 feet away

Figure 1. Examples of pictures from 4 feet away

For the first picture, set up your camera or have someone hold the camera around 4 feet (1.2 meters) away from your body. Your healthcare provider should be able to see the whole body part you’re taking a picture of.

Here are examples of what this picture may look like depending on the body part (see Figure 1).

For example, if you want to show your healthcare provider a rash on your forearm, take a picture of your entire upper body (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Picture of upper body from 4 feet away

Figure 2. Picture of upper body from 4 feet away

Picture 2

For this picture, set up your camera or have someone hold the camera around 2 feet (0.6 meters) away from your body. Your healthcare provider should be able to see the body part that you’re taking a picture of but a little closer. For example, if the rash is on your forearm, your picture should show your forearm and wrist (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Picture of upper body from 2 feet away

Figure 3. Picture of upper body from 2 feet away

Picture 3

For your last picture, set up your camera or have someone hold the camera around 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) away from your body. This picture should be as close as possible to the area. But it still should be in focus so your healthcare provider can see the texture of the area (see Figure 4). If you’re taking your pictures with a touch-screen phone, it may be helpful to tap the screen to make the camera focus.

Figure 4. Picture of upper body from 1.5 feet away

Figure 4. Picture of upper body from 1.5 feet away

When you’re done, you should have pictures from 3 different views to send to your healthcare provider (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. Pictures of 3 different views

Figure 5. Pictures of 3 different views

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Tips for Taking Pictures

The tips in this section will help you take better pictures to share with your healthcare provider.

Set up the background

  • Find a place to take the picture where there will be no clutter in the background.
  • A solid-color background will help your camera focus so your pictures are clear.
    • If you don’t have solid-color background, you can hang up a solid-color bed sheet or cloth and stand in front of it.

Plan the lighting

  • Set up the tripod or camera stand, if you’re using one.
  • Turn on the flash on your camera. The flash will give you the light you need.
  • Make sure light is shining directly on the area you’re taking a picture of. If something is in the way of the light, it can cause shadows in the picture.
  • Make sure that you, or the person helping you, can hold the camera so that it doesn’t cast a shadow on the area you’re taking a picture of.
  • If your healthcare provider asked you to measure the area, place a tape measure or ruler near the area you’re taking a picture of. Don’t let the tape measure touch the area you’re taking a picture of, especially if it’s an open wound or incision (surgical cut).

Take the picture

  • Hold the camera flat and pointed directly at the area you’re taking a picture of.
  • Hold the camera still while taking the picture.
  • If you’re using your phone, look at the area you’re taking a picture of on the screen. Tap the screen to make your camera focus.
  • When you’re ready, take the pictures. Remember to take all the views your healthcare provider asked for.
  • Check each picture to make sure they’re clear. If any of your pictures look blurry or don’t show the right area, take that picture again. Don’t try to edit the picture.
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Send Your Pictures Using MyMSK

You can send your pictures to your healthcare provider using MyMSK, our patient portal. If you don’t have a MyMSK account, visit my.mskcc.org or call 646-227-2593. You can also call your doctor’s office for an enrollment ID to sign up. For more information, watch the video How to Enroll in MyMSK: Memorial Sloan Kettering's Patient Portal.

Using the MyMSK app

To send pictures using the MyMSK app on your smartphone or tablet:

  1. Make sure your pictures are saved on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Tap the MyMSK app icon. Log in to your MyMSK account.
  3. Tap “Messages” at the bottom of your screen.
  4. Tap “New” in the upper right corner of your screen. Choose “General Office Communication.” If your care team told you to use a different message type, choose that one instead.
  5. Tap “To (Office of).” Choose your doctor’s name.
  6. Tap “Subject.” Choose “Questions about my treatment.” If your care team told you to use a different subject, choose that one instead.
  7. Tap the “+” icon next to “Add an Attachment.” Choose “Photo.” Tap the photos to attach to your message. Tap “Done” in the upper right corner of your screen.
    • MyMSK only lets you send a certain number of pictures at a time. You may need to send more than one message to share them all with your healthcare provider.
  8. In the text box, write a message to your healthcare provider. When your message is ready, tap the paper airplane symbol in the upper right corner of your screen.

Using the MyMSK website

To send the pictures using MyMSK on your computer:

  1. Save your pictures to your computer. One way to do this is to use your phone to email the pictures to yourself, open the email on your computer, and save the pictures.
  2. Open your internet browser. Type in my.mskcc.org and log in to your MyMSK account.
  3. Find the Messages area on your homepage. Click “New Message.”
  4. In the Compose New Message menu, click “Ask a general question.” If your care team told you to use a different message type, choose that one instead.
  5. Click “Type or select physician’s name.” Choose your healthcare provider.
  6. Click “Subject.” Choose “Questions about my Treatment.” If your care team told you to use a different subject, choose that one instead.
  7. In the text box, write a message to your healthcare provider.
  8. Click “Add attachment(s)” under the text box. Open the folder where your picture is saved and click on your picture. Then click the “Open” button. Repeat this step for each picture.
    • MyMSK only lets you send a certain number of pictures at a time. You may need to send more than one message to share them all with your healthcare provider.
  9. When your message is ready, click the “Send” button.

The messages you send using MyMSK are encrypted. That means no one but your MSK care team can see them.

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