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Preparing For Your Yearly Skin Exam

Here Comes the Mole Patrol…

Sure, skin exams might seem scary and make you feel vulnerable, but it’s critical to have help checking all of your skin for moles and other growths. This is why we recommend having a full body skin exam annually. It’s not a secret, full-body skin exams save lives.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all adults see a doctor every year to have a professional skin exam (sometimes more often if you are high risk.) Kids are not excluded from this, especially if there is a strong family history of melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer). Establishing a baseline is helpful and allows a dermatologist to monitor changes in moles as a child grows. You should also know that Melanoma is on the rise for women in their twenties.

Skin cancer, for the most part, is treatable if detected early.

Don’t think you are off the hook if you have darker skin tones. All races and ethnicities may develop skin cancer and so this exam is recommended yearly for everyone.

So what does a full body exam entail? Here are some helpful tips to remember before you come in for your exam:

  1. Before you see your doctor, check yourself out. Take inventory of any spots that seem unusual to you or may be irritating you. Trust your instincts. You know your body better than anyone.

  2. Remove toenail and fingernail polish. Skin cancers can appear in the nails, so it’s always good to have them examined.

  3. Do not wear make-up. This will ensure we can get the best look at your skin.

  4. Try not to be nervous. The exam is generally quick and easy. You may be sitting or laying down during the exam, and you will be covered with a drape and/or gown. The drape or gown is moved as we examine each area. Because skin cancer can occur even in areas not exposed to the sun, the provider will examine you from every angle. If you feel uncomfortable, speak up. We will listen.

Lastly, don’t forget your ABCDs, which apply equally to kindergarten and to skin cancer awareness. Not only is having a full body skin exam done by a professional important, self-examinations are too. Look for A=asymmetry, B=irregular borders, C=multiple colors, D=diameter, bigger than a pencil eraser. These can be signs a lesion is changing. The better you know your skin, the faster you can identify a problem.

Winter is the perfect time for a full-body skin check. If there’s anything that needs to be biopsied or removed, it’ll be healed before sunny weather has you in shorts and tank tops again! Schedule your check today!