With millions of people being diagnosed with skin cancer each year (including celebrities such as Hugh Jackman, who recently had another basal cell carcinoma removed), what better time than a new year to resolve to get your skin checked? Also, learn proper sun protection strategies and skin cancer risk assessment. If you are a newbie to the dermatologist or specifically a skin check, here are some fast facts about getting a yearly skin check.
What is a skin check?
A skin check (aka skin cancer screening, full body skin examination) is a thorough visual examination of your skin with the purpose of checking your skin for spots that are suspicious for skin cancer. A majority of my week is spent performing routine skin cancer checks. A skin check is painless, quick and could SAVE YOUR LIFE.
If you haven’t had a skin cancer screening before or haven’t had one in a while, here’s why you should call your dermatologist right now and schedule one.
We check ALL your skin…and I mean everywhere
Unless you are insanely flexible, most people can reasonably examine only about 50% of their skin surface area. Dermatologists are trained to perform a thorough skin exam starting from your scalp (yes you have skin under there!) down to your toes (melanoma can occur anywhere, even between your toes).
We can help you with other skin issues too!
Do you have another skin concern such as eczema, rosacea, athlete’s foot or another skin concern? Bring it up at your next skin check! It’s always best to tell your doctor about your other skin concerns at the start of the visit so an appropriate amount of time can be budgeted to accommodate your questions and concerns. Sometimes a second appointment is required to fully address any complicated diagnoses or if a medication is prescribed.
Make it a habit
Scheduling an annual skin check will keep you on a routine and ensure that you don’t go too long between check ups.
Your biggest ally for skin cancer surveillance is… YOU! You are with your skin 24/7 and it is in your hands to detect suspicious or changing lesions in their earliest stages. In addition to getting a thorough skin exam, your dermatologist should educate you on how to check your own skin and what signs and symptoms are suspicious for skin cancer. You should also make a plan on what to do if you find a concerning spot.
You’ll also learn about proper sun protection strategies (hint: a t-shirt does not equal sunscreen!) and get an assessment of your skin cancer risk based on your sun exposure history and family medical history.
Peace of mind
Did someone you know recently get diagnosed with skin cancer? Do you have a family history of skin cancer? Receiving news of a loved one’s illness can heighten concern for yourself. Getting a thorough skin cancer screening can help to alleviate concerns about your own skin and give you peace of mind.
So, go ahead and schedule that skin check – it could save your life!