Skin Check FAQs, Answered: What to Expect During Annual Skin Checks
If broad-spectrum SPF is the first line of defense when it comes to sun damage, getting a head-to-toe skin check each year is the second. Having a dermatologist examine your skin from your scalp to your soles, is an important step in early skin cancer detection—and a step that may just save your life. If you’ve never gone for a yearly skin check before, it’s definitely time to start. Not sure what to expect? We’ve got you covered! We chatted with board-certified dermatologists and skin cancer specialists, Dr. Dendy Engelman and Dr. Snehal Amin, to answer the most frequently asked questions about skin checks.
How important are full-body skin checks and how often should someone be getting one?
“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.”
What are some the benefits of getting a full-body skin exam?
“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.”
How long does the exam take?
“A professional skin exam usually takes five minutes of close inspection of the skin under good lighting.”
What does a skin check entail?
“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.”
Should you come armed with any information for the doctor?
“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.”
Are there any important tips to remember before your appointment?
“Remove all face makeup and nail polish prior to your skin exam.”
If a biopsy is necessary, what does that involve?
“If a suspicious spot has been identified, your dermatologist will numb the skin with a small needle and simply shave off a three millimeter piece of skin that heals in one week. Deeper biopsies may be required for suspected melanoma.”
Interested in knowing more about skin exams? Here are some helpful links: