How to give yourself a winter health check

Winter is a good time of year to check your health and address any worries. Find out how to give yourself a quick and easy at-home winter health check - and what you should do next.

Skin health

skin cancer

Your skin can suffer as it protects you during the harsh winter months. Dry skin is a common winter health complaint, but you can generally address this with regular moisturising1. You may also want to apply sunscreen every day (even on cloudy days) to help protect against the signs of ageing and darkening pigmentation marks. However, being covered up during the cold months can mean we don’t see as much of our skin as often, and any irregularities might be missed.

! Health check: moles and pigmentation

Regularly checking your skin, especially moles, skin tags or marks, can help you notice any variations more easily. Keep an eye out for any new or unusual spots, particularly on sun-exposed skin. Check your moles or pigmentation for changes to2:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Texture
  • Colour

Gut health


It’s not unusual to experience digestive discomfort from time to time, which usually occurs because of lifestyle changes. Winter festivities mean we’re more likely to eat indulgent food, exercise less and drink more, so you may experience bloating, indigestion or minor changes to your bowel habits. Often these symptoms settle down on their own or with the use of over the counter medicine3.

! Health check: bowel movements

Bear in mind what’s normal for you, but be on the lookout for a sudden change to your usual bowel movements, particularly a change that persists. Anything that continues for three weeks or more should be investigated by your GP. Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Blood in your stools
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Pain or lumps that you can feel in your tummy4

If you feel as though something’s not right, go with your gut and see your doctor.

Read more about bowel cancer screening

Eye health


When was the last time you had your eyes tested? If you’re struggling to read or see the TV, you may be overdue for a test. Ideally, adults should have an eye test every two years. But it won’t just tell you if you need glasses - your ophthalmologist can detect the early signs of eye conditions even before you’ve noticed any symptoms5.

! Health check: book an eye test

Mr Shahriar Nabili, Consultant Ophthalmologist for Eye Care Scotland at BMI Ross Hall says regular eye checks can detect serious conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration. He says, “Left untreated, they can cause permanent problems, even blindness.” Symptoms you should have investigated include:

  • Disturbance of vision
  • Eye pain
  • Weeping or redness

Read more from Mr Nabili on keeping your eyes healthy


stomach pain

It’s good to get into a regular habit of checking yourself for lumps. This will help you understand what is normal for you and make any changes easier to spot.

! Health check: check your breasts/testicles

There’s no right or wrong technique to check for lumps or swelling, but men may find it easier to check their testicles using their thumb and forefinger, while women can use the flat of their hand to check their breasts.

Perhaps incorporate it into your bath or shower routine at a time when you’re more relaxed. Be sure to check yourself once a month (you should check your breasts a few days after your period has finished).

Testicular symptoms to report to your GP include6:

  • A swelling in a testicle (can be painless or painful)
  • Pain or heaviness in the scrotum
  • A pain in your testes and an ache in the lower stomach

Breast symptoms to report to your GP include7:

  • A change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Dimpled skin
  • Changes to the appearance of the nipple
  • Discharge or blood from the nipple
  • A rash around the nipple
  • A lump or swelling in your armpit
  • Painful breasts or armpits

Aches and pains

aches and pains

Aches and pains can come and go, whether due to poor posture at your desk, straining, or overcoming a sporting injury. But if you’ve been ignoring a persistent complaint, it’s best to get it checked by a specialist who can investigate any underlying causes.

! Health check: review persistent aches and pains

Common areas include:

Remember, if you’re concerned about any symptoms, book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

If you’d like a more comprehensive overview from a doctor or nurse, a BMI Health Assessment can give you the chance to highlight health issues in their early stages.

To find out more about HealthFirst health assessments, speak to one of our friendly advisors by calling 0808 101 0337,
or make an online enquiry.


Winter health check infographic

Take a look at our infographic to learn more about giving yourself a winter health check:

winter health check infographic 




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This is why you need to make regular trips to the ophthalmologist.

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