According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer affects one out of every five Americans, and more than three and a half million new cases are diagnosed each year. So it’s very important that a skin exam is part of your annual doctor visit. While many doctors do skin exams as part of a normal annual physical, having an annual skin-specific physical is a very good idea, and the best place to do that is in a dermatology office, such as Dermatology Associates, P.C.
While your family doctor or general practitioner can and should do a skin exam, the truth is that anything that looks unusual or abnormal will end up getting you referred to a dermatologist. So sometimes it can be simpler to just start with a specialist.
A skin exam at a dermatologist’s office is often more detailed because you are dealing with a doctor who has been specially trained in treating conditions that affect the skin. Dermatologists also know how to treat disorders that affect the hair, nails, and mucous membranes. There are more than 3,000 known diseases that come under the practice of dermatology — including skin cancer, acne, and disorders like psoriasis and eczema — and anyone who has skin can be at risk. So a dermatologist is a valuable medical professional.
When you are preparing for your annual exam, there are some things that you can do before you even step into our office. If you have any skin, nail, or hair concerns, make some notes for yourself so that you are prepared to discuss it with your doctor. For example, perhaps you have been having trouble with breakouts or blemishes — acne affects more than just teenagers — or you may have noticed a new birthmark or brown spot that you don’t remember seeing. Even things like brittle fingernails or increased hair loss or “shedding” are things you can bring to the attention of one of our doctors.
It’s also helpful to do self skin exams. Checking your own skin for potential concerns is a very simple thing to do as part of your regular health routine, though, remember it’s not a replacement for a professional medical exam. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a very helpful guide for how doing this. It’s actually recommended that you do this kind of self-exam monthly so you can keep track of and monitor any changes in your skin. Make notes of anything unusual or anything that you notice is a new or changing mark on your skin. Remember to check your scalp, the soles of your feet, between toes and fingers, and hard to see places like under your arms.
Your dermatologist will consider all of your concerns in addition to performing a detailed check of your skin. If they see anything that they are worried about, they will discuss the concerns with you and explain what the next steps will be, if any. Early detection is always important, so even something that looks normal to you might be something that warrants further examination. You can trust our experts in skin care here at Dermatology Associates, P.C. We are here to help keep you safe and healthy. Call today to schedule your appointment.