To ensure skin conditions are detected early, it is important to continually check your skin including moles to track any changes. By checking your skin regularly, you should be able to catch a suspicious tumour / mole at an early stage so it can be dealt with quickly. Checking your own skin can often be very difficult, especially if you have a lot or have lesions in hard to see areas such as the back and shoulders.
During your skin exam, your medical practitioner will check your skin for moles, birthmarks and other pigmented areas which may look abnormal in their colour, shape, size, or texture.
It is wise to have a skin check whenever you notice concerning spots. While some skin cancer lesions appear suddenly, others grow slowly over time. For example, the crusty, pre-cancerous lesions associated with sunspots can take years to develop. Other forms of skin cancer, like melanoma, can appear very suddenly, while at other times, the lesions can vanish and reappear.
If you have a family history of skin cancer, suntan or use tanning beds, you are at increased risk.
In general, you should start getting screened for skin cancer in your 20s or 30s. However, if you are in the sun a lot, have a family history of skin cancer, or have moles, you should be checked sooner.
It is recommended that all adults check their own skin every three months. It’s important to completely examine your skin from the top of your scalp to the soles of your feet. You will need the help of a partner or friend to check areas you cannot see, like the back of your ears.
As part of a complete early detection strategy, we recommend that you see a dermatologist once a year, or more often if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer, for a full-body, professional skin exam.
You will be asked to take off all of your clothes and put on a medical exam gown. Our doctor will ask if you have any moles or any lesions that concern you. They will then look at every inch of your body — from your face, chest, arms, back, and legs to less-visible places like your scalp, behind your ears, between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
The actual check of your skin can take from 5 up to 30 minutes depending on your skin type and the number of moles and spots to be looked at. This includes some time for the doctor to ask you questions about your general health and family history. Make sure you tell the doctor about any spots or moles you have which are changing, sore, abnormal or new.
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