The Yearly Check-up You Might Not Think About
Most people know they should get a yearly check-up with a primary care provider. But how often should a person schedule a dermatologist visit? Yearly check-ins with a dermatologist are just as important as other annual exams. Even if a person doesn’t seem to have any severe skin conditions, a dermatologist visit can be vital to maintaining good health.
Give your birthday suit a birthday gift
Dermatologists provide annual skin exams to check for signs of skin cancer, new moles, and signs of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or acne. Many dermatologists recommend thinking of an annual skin exam like a birthday exam. Each year when a person’s birthday rolls around, it can be a reminder to schedule a skin check for their birthday suit. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. But skin cancer can be prevented, and scheduling annual skin exams with a dermatologist is a good place to start.
What if I’ve spent a lot of time tanning?
People who have risk factors for skin conditions may want to schedule dermatology appointments more frequently than once a year. These higher risk populations can include people who have been treated for skin cancer in the past, who have a family member who has been treated for skin cancer, or who have spent a significant amount of time in the sun. People who have a lot of moles, sun spots, or who have a fair complexion may also benefit more from regular dermatology appointments.
Know your ABCs
Everyone should be aware of the ABCDE rule for spotting melanoma. If a skin growth, mole, or spot is showing any of the ABCDE signs of melanoma, it’s extremely important to schedule a dermatologist appointment. The ABCDE rule stands for:
- Asymmetry: if the two halves of a skin growth or mole are uneven, this is a warning sign.
- Border: A benign mole has smooth borders, while malignant ones have uneven or scalloped edges.
- Color: A melanoma spot is often characterized by having a variety of colors, such as brown, tan, black, or even red, white, or blue.
- Diameter: Moles that have grown larger than ¼-inch are often melanoma.
- Evolving: Always schedule a dermatologist right away if a skin spot is changing in any way. This could be a change in size, shape, or color. It could also mean that a mole starts itching, bleeding, or oozing.
There are some situations in which a person should schedule a dermatologist appointment right away and not wait for a yearly check-up. If the person has developed a rash or itch that won’t go away, or if they have any of the warning signs of melanoma, they should get in to see a dermatologist as soon as possible.