Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Dear Savvy Derm Diva,
What is the best way I can prepare myself for my skin exam, and should a skin check be part of my annual wellness routine?
-Always Prepared. Sara W.
Dear Always Prepared,
This is an excellent question, and YES, a total body skin exam (TBSE), should be done annually no matter what your past medical history is. It is also never too early to start as skin cancer, particularly melanoma, does not discriminate in age, sex, or ethnicity. The best way to be prepared is to make sure all of your clothing is removed during the exam as skin cancer can show up in areas where the sun does not shine, such as the bottom of feet, genitalia, inside the mouth to name a few areas. Be honest with your answers about sun exposure, family history, sunburns, tanning bed use, and family history of skin cancer. Know your spots before you go in and mention which are new or changing. If you don’t know, it’s okay, getting an exam and thoroughly evaluated once a year is very important. You will also walk out with educational tools, so you know what to be aware of. If something new shows up, don’t wait! Make an appointment to be seen right away, even if you were just seen.
Diva Tip: Visit The Skin Cancer Foundation for information on how to perform a self-exam.💋
Dear Savvy Derm Diva,
Can skin cancer be prevented?
-Wanting to know my chances. Bob B
Dear Wanting to know my chances,
Though skin cancer cannot be 100% prevented, you can significantly decrease your chance of getting skin cancer by reducing your exposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation. Research suggests that almost 90% of non-melanoma & melanoma skin cancers are attributed to sun exposure. That said, it is essential for you to have annual skin exams, as mentioned above, along with being vigilant and detecting skin cancer at an early stage. Skin cancer is one of the only cancers that can be primarily prevented by merely protecting your skin from UV radiation waves, whether you sunburn or not. Daily accumulative doses of exposure can be just as dangerous, so make sure you wear an SPF of at least 30 every single day and reapply every 1-2 hours if you are outdoors or near a window no matter what the weather.
Diva Tip: UVA rays can penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays and even can penetrate through glass. UPF clothing is a wonderful addition to your daily SPF.💋
Renata Block, MMS, PA-C is the creator of Savvy Derm Diva, an online resource for proper skin care. Ask Savvy Derm Diva is a monthly column answering your skincare related concerns! Make sure you follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! You can make an appointment with her via TeleMedicine or in person at Advanced Dermatology & Aesthetic Medicine, LLC or TEXT to 847-802-9667.