A full skin exam or full-body exam is conducted by a dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer. Like many other serious conditions, skin cancer is easier to treat if it is found early. It is also less likely to have metastasized. Dermatologists typically conduct a full skin exam once a year, and it usually takes 20 minutes.
What does the exam involve?
The dermatologist will need complete access to the patient’s skin. Therefore, the patient may need to avoid wearing make-up or nail polish. Skin cancer can develop on any part of the body including the scalp, genitals, between the toes, or any place else that has skin. The dermatologist will check the patient’s skin.
It may be effective for the patient to discuss his or her medical history, any incidences of skin cancer within the patient’s family, any high-risk activities such as using tanning beds. It might be asked about what medications the patient takes, since some medicines can suppress the immune system or make the skin more sensitive to sun light. Such medications can increase the risk of skin cancer.
What if the dermatologist finds something suspicious?
If the doctor finds a suspicious-looking mole or the like, he will take a tissue sample called a biopsy. He will administer a local anesthetic and then take a skin sample. He will send the sample to a laboratory for the diagnosis.
What kinds of biopsies are there?
There are several types of biopsies. In a shave biopsy, the dermatologist simply scrapes off some skin with a scalpel. The resultant wound is small enough to not need stitches.
In a punch biopsy, the dermatologist uses a tool called a punch to collect the sample. A punch resembles a cookie cutter, and the doctor slowly turns it around to remove a circular piece of skin. Stitches may be needed.
In an excision, the doctor uses a scalpel to remove all of the growth he can see with the naked eye. He will then stitch the wound closed.
Skin cancer is a growing concern in the world. Don’t wait to have your skin examined. Contact Pinnacle today to schedule an appointment for a full skin exam. Our practice is dedicated to helping patients with their skin care needs, and we offer a variety of services including acne treatments, sclerotherapy, non-invasive skin tightening, and more. Get started now.