The thought of having someone examine your body in great detail from head to toe can be nerve-racking, but it’s important to have a skin exam at least once a year in addition to wearing SPF everyday. No seriously, EVERY DAY! It isn’t uncommon for people to be embarrassed of that first exam! Knowing what to expect from your visit can help you overcome any of these anxieties.
1.A “total body” exam is exactly what it sounds like
When dermatologists refer to it as a total body exam, they mean it. Some allow you to keep your bra and underwear on during the exam, but for the most part, they will be examining every nook and cranny. Even between your toes and the bottoms of your feet! The reason for this is because skin cancer can affect areas of the skin that have not been exposed to the sun. If you’re uncomfortable with this aspect of the exam, finding a dermatologist of the same sex might help to keep your mind at ease.
2.Expect the exam to take around 10-15 minutes
You won’t have to take very much time out of your day for a quick trip to the dermatologist. The will include a review of medical history and a full body exam.
3.The dermatologist may have to take a skin biopsy
If your dermatologist finds anything unusual during your exam, he or she may need to take a skin biopsy. This involves numbing the area with a local anesthetic and taking a small sample of the skin to send to a lab for testing. The process is virtually painless and you should get the results within 7-10 weeks.
4.You should still conduct self exams
Although you only need to visit the dermatologist once a year, it’s still important to conduct your own self-exams at home. You should keep an eye out for any changes in moles or skin abnormalities. Early detection is essential to skin cancer treatment and can help prevent any cancerous cells from spreading. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, point them out to your dermatologist.