Skin exams are so important to lasting good health. If you have never had a skin exam, or your last one was over a year ago, it’s time to get an appointment on your calendar. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US. The fact is that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70.
Why is it important to schedule an annual skin exam?
Skin exams are sometimes referred to as a total body skin exam. These skin health checkups allow trained professionals to review your skin for any signs of skin cancer or other abnormalities. Having these exams regularly can help detect and problems with your skin early which is key to treatment options and recovery. Some people have an increased risk and may want to have these exams more frequently as part of ongoing preventative health care. Some of the factors that put you at an increased risk for skin problems are:
Any family or personal history of skin cancer, including actinic keratosis (which is a precancerous condition of the skin)
Those with light-color skin, eyes and hair (red and/or blonde natural hair colors can have much fairer and sensitive skin which can be more prone to skin conditions.
Those with several moles or freckles
Adults that experienced severe and blistering sunburns as a child and/or more than five severe sunburns as an adult.
It is important to also monitor your own skin regularly by doing a self-exam of your skin. Use a handheld mirror and look for blemishes on the skin and other irregularities. You should do this check every few months and if you do have moles or spots on your skin, make sure to monitor for any changes in size, shape, and color.
What happens next if skin concerns are found during your exam?
If a suspicious mole or skin patch is found during a clinical skin exam, next steps will be determined based on the findings – sometimes the best course of action is to monitor for growth, and often pictures are taken so that changes can be tracked easily. You can also complete regular self-exams and notate your findings for your next appointment. Removal of suspicious moles may be recommended or you may be advised to follow up with a health care physician or specialist for further tests and review.
Finally, do what you can to never get sunburned… your risk of developing skin cancer doubles after five sunburns and about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Also NEVER use UV tanning beds! These treatments are dangerous and listed by the FDA as a known carcinogen.
A yearly skin exam should be in everyone’s calendar - an annual skin exam is an opportunity to examine your skin, identify concerns, look at moles to evaluate changes, and check out any rashes. You can also speak with your Provider if you want to consider any medical or cosmetic treatments to help with skin issues. Regular skin exams and skin cancer screenings are the best route to early detection and treatment.
To request a dermatology appointment or skin exam with us click here or call 208-877-5144.