It is recommended that every individual schedule an appointment with a physician or dermatologist annually in order to have a skin scan of the body completed. During the scan, a doctor will check for any abnormalities like suspicious moles that could become cancerous. There are some ways to prepare before this type of appointment to get the most out of your time with the doctor.
Before the Appointment
You see your body more than anybody else. It is important for you to perform self scans periodically that help you to notice if a mole has gotten larger, is bleeding, or becomes itchy. These are things you would want to tell your doctor. Take note of any growths or other lesions as well.
It’s also important to check hard-to-see areas like the scalp and between fingers and toes as well; maybe enlist a friend or family member to help you out with checking the back and head.
A lesser known way to prepare for a visit with the skin doctor is to remove any nail polish from fingernails and toenails. Skin cancers can actually form in nail beds, and the doctor will want to check those out while you are there for your appointment.
During the Appointment
A skin exam is typically very short, especially if you do not have a history of atypical moles. You could be out of there in as little as 10 minutes, so having any questions ready ahead of time and a plan before the exam starts will help to make sure you get the most out of the appointment. First of all, have questions from your self-exam ready. Ask the doctor to take special attention when checking those areas because they concerned you. If you aren’t too confident in your self-exam, ask the doctor to show you how to conduct one properly and what you should be looking for when doing a self-exam.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re seeing a dermatologist, their life is skin and checking the skin. They have seen some pretty gross things and been asked every question in the book. Do not be shy about asking anything because they entered into their profession to help people detect skin cancer, treat acne, and remove cysts to name a few.
After the Appointment
There is a possibility that the doctor performing your skin exam will take some skin samples from you. This process does not hurt, and the doctor likely prefers to be overly cautious when choosing to take a sample. All could be perfectly fine, but if any doubt exists at all they’ll biopsy a mole to check it for cancerous qualities. This can be scary since you will need to wait for results, but when caught early cancerous moles have a cure rate of around 95%. If the doctor has any inkling of cancerous qualities, they will call you back in to remove the pesky mole.
If nothing looks suspicious, then continue performing self-exams and staying on top of any changes in moles or any other skin growths until the next appointment. Just remember to check those hard-to-see places too.
With all of the annual medical exams that creep onto the calendar, dermatologist appointments can sometimes be lost in the shuffle. It is important, however, to practice preventative care rather than reactive care. Pay attention when you are in the shower or getting dressed in the morning and notice any moles or spots and watch them make sure they don’t change over time and schedule an annual skin exam with the doctor too.