How to Prepare For A Full Body Skin Exam

Have an appointment with a dermatologist? Here’s what to expect:

 

Before You Arrive

  • Gather your family history, and make it a point to note any family history of skin cancer.
  • Remove all makeup and lipstick, so the doctor has a clear view of your face for suspicious moles or pre-cancerous lesions.
  • Remove nail polish on fingers and toes, so the doctor can examine any possible growths underneath your nails.
  • Wash your hair so it is free of hair products and buildup. Many skin cancers, even melanomas, are found on hair parts or where hair has thinned.
At the Doctor’s Office
  • A complete skin exam requires you to undress completely since skin cancers can grow anywhere on the body. You will be given a gown to cover up while waiting.
  • You will be systematically examined from head to toe. If nothing on your skin proves worrisome, you can schedule your exam for the following year. But if any lesions are a concern, the dermatologist will perform a biopsy.
  • For a skin biopsy, you will be given a local anesthetic (an injection) to numb the area. Then the doctor will remove a piece of tissue and have it processed. If your diagnosis is a skin cancer, your doctor will discuss your treatment options.
Follow Up
  • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends annual skin exams.
  • If you have a family history of skin cancer, or have a history of sunbathing and/or using tanning salons, more frequent visits may be recommended by your doctor.

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