Annual physical exams are the recommended way to stay on top of your health, even when you’re feeling fine. The doctor can monitor any changes in your general health, see what might need some improvement or what you’ve been doing well, and make suggestions for how to eliminate, decrease, or prevent problems from arising. This concept holds true for skin exams as well, so why not schedule an annual dermatology mole checks?
Because your skin is the largest organ of your body and is your first line of defense, it’s every bit as important to make sure your skin is healthy as it is to check things like weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and other levels determined through a blood draw. Find a dermatologist you trust, then make sure you have (at minimum) annual skin checks with them. If you notice anything unusual, however, it never hurts to get things checked as they come to light.
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer, but it is also among the easiest to treat when caught early. Thanks to the fact that it’s often visible, too, all you have to do to catch nearly any type of skin cancer is pay attention and speak up. You need to be aware of your skin when you receive a dermatology mole checks.
What Happens at a Dermatology Skin Check?
Before your actual exam, it would be best to do your own self-check at home first. That way, you can be prepared to ask questions about anything you notice during the skin exam itself. Make note of any suspicious moles, dark marks, odd patches of skin, and anything else that looks irregular on your body. Most of us will have instances of irregular skin throughout our bodies, and most of those areas will be harmless, but it’s best to be aware of them and have them checked out, just to be safe during your dermatology mole checks.
During the exam itself, you’ll start by changing into an open gown so that the dermatologist can examine your skin without too much hindrance while giving you the ability to cover up before and afterward. Your doctor will ask if there’s anything you’ve noticed that you would like looked at, which is your chance to mention anything that came up during your self-examination. However, if the doctor doesn’t ask right away, don’t hesitate to go ahead and vocalize any concerns you have! No matter how awkward it might feel, it’s better to endure a few seconds of awkwardness than miss a chance to catch skin cancer early or get the peace of mind you need when they tell you it’s not cancerous.
Then, it’s time for the full-body skin exam. Your doctor will check every inch of your body from head to toe. Some may skip the genital areas unless otherwise asked to. Others will make sure that you’re comfortable with it but express that they’d like to check there as well. This is recommended, as things like genital warts, ingrown hairs, unpleasant rashes, and other issues often go untreated and cause further problems. If you’ve had melanoma before and are a high risk for skin cancer in the future, the doctor will also check your lymphatic regions to make sure everything looks normal.
All in all, your skin exam should only take about 10-20 minutes depending on whether or not the doctor finds any suspicious-looking lesions. If this is your first time receiving such an exam, though, there will be a bit of extra time during which your doctor will go over risk factors for skin cancer, and likely provide you with some patient education pamphlets that go over different kinds of skin cancer, such as melanoma, squamous cell, and basal cell carcinoma.
What to Expect When Getting Moles Checked
Moles can make people nervous, as any irregular skin is something worth investigating. During your examination, the dermatologist will make note of any irregularities they find. If they believe it warrants testing, they may take a small sample by scraping, shaving, or taking a punch biopsy of the area and sending it to a lab for further diagnostics. If they don’t think it looks problematic, they’ll often choose to simply take a picture of it so that they can compare shape, color, and size the next time you come in. Changes in a mole’s appearance are often signs of something more serious.
If your lab results come back positive for any type of skin cancer, your dermatologist will call you and go over the next steps, including another visit, treatment options, and ways to protect all parts of the body moving forward.
When Should I See a Dermatologist for a Mole?
There are a few things you can look out for if you have several moles and don’t want to go in for each new one you find. These factors are the same things your dermatologist will examine, and they’re referred to as the ABCDEs of potentially dangerous moles:
- Asymmetry – Moles that are asymmetrical may indicate that they’ve been changing and growing.
- Border Irregularity – Most moles will have clearly-defined edges, so if yours is blurred or not a clean line, it’s worth getting it biopsied.
- Color – This will depend on your own skin color, but differing shades of black, tan, and brown may indicate a need for testing.
- Diameter – If your mole is larger than .25 inches in diameter, it may be growing.
- Evolution – This is one of the most telling signs. If your mole is growing or changing in size, color, or shape, see your dermatologist immediately.
Even if you haven’t noticed any of the above indicators yet, it never hurts to visit your dermatologist regarding dermatology mole checks and become aware of something new or strange on any part of your body. If it is something worth your concern, you’ll then have the tools and treatment options available to you to address it. If it’s not anything serious, you’ll at least have peace of mind knowing that there’s nothing to worry about.
Find a Dermatologist That You Are Comfortable With
Full body examinations are thorough, meaning that the doctor will have to view all of your skin even the parts that are usually covered by clothing. This can be unnerving, but it’s a small inconvenience in order to detect any abnormalities before they become deadly. Remember that if the doctor does find something, it’s not the end of the world. Skin abnormalities like cancers have treatment options in the early stages, which is why it’s important to get this kind of skin exam. Finding a dermatologist near you that you’re comfortable with is key. Trust you’ll find the best dermatologist with Beaumont Dermatology & Family Practice. Contact us today.