An annual visit to the dermatologist is an important part of preventing skin cancer. When found early, this is one of the most treatable forms of the disease. Making the necessary preparations for this yearly skin exam can help ensure that you make the most of your time with the specialist and effectively cover any areas of concern that he or she will want to examine further.
Before going to the dermatologist, you’ll want to perform a full body skin exam. This will help identify any changes in your skin that you want to bring to the doctor’s attention. To perform this exam effectively, look at your entire body. Enlisting a family member’s assistance can help you examine hard to reach and see areas.
When performing this skin exam, you should look for any skin growth that has increased in size or appears to be translucent (see-through), brown, black, or more than one color. If you have existing moles, make sure they have not increased in size or thickness, changed color, or developed an irregular outline. Identifying potential problem areas before your appointment can help expedite the diagnosis and treatment process if your dermatologist is concerned.
Prior to your annual skin exam, you should wash your body thoroughly and remove any fingernail or toenail polish. Because cancerous growths can start in the nail beds, it’s important for your dermatologist to examine these areas along with the rest of your skin. This is especially important if you’re of African American descent, which makes you more likely to get skin cancer in the palms and nail areas.
After your annual dermatology appointment, continue to check your skin each month. An easy way to remember what to look for in your moles and growths is ABCDE, with A for asymmetry, B for irregular borders, C for color change, D for diameter bigger than six millimeters, and E for any unusual changes.
Regular skin exams are particularly important if you spend a lot of time in the sun, are older than age 50, or have a family history of skin cancer. Remember that while skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, affecting an estimated one in five adults, it’s also one of the most preventable and treatable. If you’re concerned about your skin cancer risk, the most important thing you can do is to wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF every day.
At Dermatology Associates – with locations in Norwood, Foxboro and Franklin – your skin health is our top priority. Our medical team will work with you to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of any skin conditions. Contact Dermatology Associates today to schedule your annual skin exam.