In my practice, most people are unprepared for their skin assessment appointments. This has compelled me to compile a list of 10 tips to a smoother experience at your dermatologist’s office. Let’s go!!!
1. No gel nails or toe/nail polish
Nails need to be clean, because skin cancer can develop in the nail bed. Nail polish can hide this, and there would be no way to perform an accurate assessment of the nail beds.
2. Do not wear foundation, self tanner, or tinted moisturizer. It would be impossible to perform a skin check with make up on. It is important that the doctor is able to fully see the integrity of the skin, and using makeup can mask the imperfections that are necessary to assess.
3. No shaving/waxing for a few days prior to your visit.
This will give any blemishes the chance to heal before your visit.
4. Wear untinted moisturizer
This will help the dermatologist find any lesions and easily differentiate it from flaky or dry skin.
5. Lay back, breathe, and relax
It is a fairly quick and stress free visit.
6. Know your body
Assess your skin from head to toe, and document any new moles or lesions. Make sure to show the doctor and report any changes in shape or size.
7. Prepare and ask a lot of questions
There are no dumb questions, and there are never too many questions when it comes to the most coveted part of your body.
8. Know your history
Make sure that you inquire about your families history with skin cancer, allergies, and skin sensitivities so that the doctor knows how to proceed with testing and potential treatment options.
9. No hair pomades or sticky hair products
Skin cancer can affect the scalp, and heavy products on the hair can get in the way of a scalp assessment. Also, product buildup can be mistaken for dandruff or other scalp conditions, so it is important to come with clean hair.
10. Honesty is the best policy. Be honest about your habits, like tanning or scratching of the skin. If you are completely honest, it is the only way that we can help you.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a whopping 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. annually. Believe it or not, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in this country, and Melanoma leads the pack in cancer cases for women between the ages of 25-29. But please, do not get too scared! If skin cancer is caught early, there is at least a 98% chance of curing it. For this reason, a total body exam (TBE) is recommended annually. So never say never to an exam that can easily save your life.