Q1: How important are full-body skin checks? How often should someone be getting one? If you notice one peculiar spot should you be getting a full-body check

A full body skin exam by a trained professional can be life-saving. Everyone should check their own skin once a month at home. Most people should visit their dermatologist once a year for a professional skin exam. Your doctor may advise you to visit more often if you have a family or personal history of melanoma.

Q2:  What are the benefits of getting a skin check?

Early detection of skin cancers helps to achieve higher cure rates. Skin cancers that are caught earlier are usually smaller so the cosmetic results are often better after treatment.

Q3: How long does the check take? What does it entail?

A professional skin exam usually take 5 minutes of close inspection of the skin under good lighting. The dermatologist will simply look over your skin from your head to your toes. Some doctors may use magnifying devices or specialized lights. Some doctors make you stand, other make you lie down.

Q4: Should you come armed with any information for the doctor? Are there any important tips (for instance removing makeup, nail polish, keeping hair down)?

Your dermatologist will ask you about your family’s cancer history. They will also ask you which of your skin spots bother you so make sure you do your own skin check at home. If you have any skin biopsies or treatments, you should bring those reports with you. Remove all face makeup and nail polish prior to your skin exam.

Q7: If a biopsy is necessary – what does that entail?

If a suspicious spot has been identified, your dermatologist will numb the skin with a small needle and simply shave off a 3 millimeter piece of skin that heals in 1 week. Deeper biopsies may be required for suspected melanoma.

Q8:  How can someone perform a skin check at home so they are better prepared for their next professional check?

First you must fully undress and stand in front of a full-length mirror in a bright area. Hold a small mirror in your hand and use it to look at every part of your skin including your private parts and palms and soles.

Here are some helpful links:

American Academy of Dermatology Skin Cancer Exam

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