The Importance of Getting Regular Skin Exams

Skin cancer is the most curable and most treatable form of cancer. While being diagnosed with skin cancer can feel overwhelming, the truth is that most people are able to have the skin cancer removed with little to no negative side effects. The best way to find skin cancer and find it early is with frequent skin exams.

These skin exams include those performed by our experienced doctor as well as those that you perform on your own skin. The earlier you identify cancer, the easier it is going to be for you to treat it.

Individuals who are at greater risk of developing skin cancer should be more diligent when it comes to performing skin exams. Certain people with reduced immunity or those who have family members who have had skin cancer need to get their skin checked frequently. During your initial visit with Dr. Adams, ask her how frequently you should undergo skin exams. During the exam, be sure to also ask Dr. Adams about any concerns you have about growths on your skin or any skin changes you have noticed.

It is a good idea for you to check your skin every month. A skin self-exam should be done in a well-lit room while you stand in front of a full-length mirror. You’ll also need a mirror that you can hold in your hand that will allow you to see parts of your body that are difficult to see, such as your buttocks and the back of your thighs.

Having a close friend, family member, or spouse help you with the exam will improve its effectiveness. It is good to have these individuals check areas that are hard to see, like the back of your scalp.

The very first time that you do the exam, you need to be meticulous. Look at the entire surface of your skin. Look at the different moles you have, their patterns, and other marks on your skin. You may even want to take photographs that you can use to compare the progression of moles on your skin. Use the photographs to show Dr. Adams any concerns that you have.

When you start your self-appointed skin exams, face the mirror. Look at the entire front of your body, including your ears and belly. Women should lift their breasts to check the skin underneath. Look underneath your arms, between your fingers, and even inside your fingernails.

Next, sit down and look at the tops of your feet, your toenails, your thighs, and your chin. Check your calves and the back of your thighs. For the best results, you should look at your legs one at a time. With the mirror, check your buttocks, your genital area, and the back of your ears. If you have long hair, you may need to use a comb so that you can check your scalp.

It’s best to do this exam once a month after taking a shower. If you look at your skin regularly, you will know what’s normal, and you will be able to quickly identify any potentially dangerous changes. If you see anything suspicious, visit Adams Dermatology; Dr. Adams will provide you with a thorough skin exam, identify any potential problems, and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. To receive expert skin care and skin exams, contact our office in Columbia and schedule your consultation today.

Author
Melanie Adams, MD, PA Melanie L. Adams, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist who has been in private, solo practice since September 2005. She is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. Her areas of expertise include skin cancer, dermatology of ethnic skin, general dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology.

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