Russell Akin, MD & Rachel Chandler, MD | Board-Certified Dermatologists | Skin Cancer Specialists | Midland, Texas
Have you ever wondered why it’s important to get an annual skin exam? It’s simple — to be proactive in preventing and/or treating skin cancer in its early stages. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and it’s also one of the most preventable. In this post, Dr. Akin and Dr. Chandler, board-certified dermatologists at Midland Dermatology, explain the importance of why you should get an annual skin exam.
What is a skin exam?
It’s recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology to get a skin exam every year. A skin exam is an opportunity for dermatologists to examine your skin from head to toe, identify any suspicious lesions, or spots, and create a treatment plan, if necessary.
“Annual skin exams are recommended because we can’t see all of our skin,” says Dr. Chandler. “For example, we can’t see our back, the back of our legs, and we don’t really look at our feet. Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body; it doesn’t just have to be where you were sunburned or had chronic sun exposure.”
Full skin exams are usually quick appointments that only last a few minutes. You should expect to get undressed and put on a gown to allow the dermatologist to evaluate your skin. We will look at your skin all the way from your scalp to in between your toes.
What if I don’t want certain areas examined?
It’s important to know that skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, including areas that are non-sun-exposed, such as the genital area. However, patients control the extent of any exam.
“As a dermatologist, we are only going to look at what patients are comfortable with,” says Dr. Akin. “We do recommend a full skin exam for patients with a history of skin cancer or a family history of melanoma.”
In addition, some patients may just need a “focal” exam, where we only look at the lesions, or spots, that patients are concerned about. “It’s not uncommon that a patient comes in for one skin concern, and we end up finding a different problem that patients weren’t aware they had,” says Dr. Akin. “That’s the reason for a full skin exam.”
Why you shouldn’t be nervous about getting a skin exam
Remember, dermatologists do skin exams all the time, and there is nothing to be nervous about. “You shouldn’t be afraid or scared to see a dermatologist,” says Dr. Akin. “In fact, you may find out that you had a skin problem you weren’t aware of — that could possibly save your life.”
The best thing you can do to avoid skin cancer is to take steps to prevent it. If skin cancer is caught early on, it’s typically very treatable. To help lower your risk of developing skin cancer, you should avoid tanning beds, wear at least 45 SPF sunscreen, cover up with clothing, check your skin for abnormal spots, and get a yearly skin exam.
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Russell Akin, MD, RPh. FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon who specializes in skin cancer treatments and other dermatological procedures with patients ages 12 and up at Midland Dermatology in Midland, Texas. Rachel Chandler, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and practices general, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology here at Midland Dermatology in Midland, Texas.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment with any of the providers at Midland Dermatology, please call 432-689-2512.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog post is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician.