You make annual visits to your dentist, eye doctor, and primary care provider to make sure your oral health, vision, and overall health are all good. If your doctor or dentist finds a problem, they check it out before it can get worse.
Somehow, though, an annual skin exam usually doesn’t make the list. But it should.
At Melanie Adams Dermatology in Columbia, Maryland, we have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat a variety of skin issues, including some that can threaten your health. Here are five reasons we think it’s important for you to schedule a skin exam:
In general, you should start getting annual skin exams in your 20s or 30s. If you have a family history of skin cancer, though, you should begin earlier.
You especially need to get an exam if any of the following risk factors apply to you: blond or red hair, skin that gets freckles or sunburns easily, a history of unusual moles, extensive tanning bed use, lots of time in the sun, or having more than 50 moles.
During the visit, Dr. Adams conducts a full-body skin exam, using the ABCDE method to look for skin spots (moles, freckles, etc.) that could indicate some type of skin cancer:
Asymmetry — two halves of mole aren’t the same
Border — mole has irregular or jagged edges
Color — mole’s color is uneven
Diameter — mole is larger than a pencil eraser
Evolving — mole has changed in recent weeks or months
If any of the ABCDEs are present, the spot should be checked to see if it’s melanoma.
This is one of the strongest arguments for skin exams — a melanoma can become life-threatening before you even know it’s there. Frequent skin checks by a professional can often stop any potential skin cancers before they cause problems.
Melanoma only makes up about 1% of skin cancers, but it causes a majority of the deaths from skin cancer, so it’s important to take it seriously.
You may have a rash that you don’t know how to treat, or you may think you’re stuck with it. Many rashes are easily treatable and can be cleared up relatively quickly with the proper medication.
If you have concerns about spots on your skin or any other aspect of dermatology, come to your appointment with your questions written down so you can check with Dr. Adams. This would also be a good time to show her any photos of a spot on your skin that’s changed.
If you’d like to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with regular skin exams, call Melanie Adams Dermatology today or request your appointment online.