If you have read any of our past blog posts, you know that at Beacon Skin & Surgeries we are passionate about preventing skin cancer. Sun protection is just one piece of the equation to skin cancer prevention. Many of us can relate to being irresponsible when it comes to applying sunscreen at one point or another in our lives. So besides preventing new sun damage with SPF, what else can we do to prevent skin cancer? The answer is quite simple – get an annual full body skin check! Just like how you would get an annual physical with your PCP, everyone should get a full body skin exam with their dermatology provider every year! I offer this to all my patients over the age of 18 years old and even some younger patients depending on their medical history. Many of my patients respond with “A full body skin exam? What does that entail… it sounds intimidating.” I’m sure this is something that most of us can relate to, so I’m here to tell you what to expect at you’re a full body skin exam!

What to expect at your full body skin exam:

  • Skin exams are performed clinically by a trained dermatology provider. We visually examine the hair, skin, & nails for suspicious moles or lesions. Some providers use a dermatoscope (specialized handheld magnifying instrument) to more closely inspect skin lesions.
  • Before getting started you will be asked to change into a gown. We ask you to remove your clothes, shoes, and socks. Undergarments (bra, underwear) are okay to keep on underneath the gown.
  • During the exam a medical assistant will be present in the room as a chaperone and scribe to document the exam findings.
  • Once you are ready in your gown, your provider will get started with you. We will go over your medical and family history (skin cancer or other dermatological conditions) and inquire about any concerns you may have.
  • When it comes to performing the exam, every provider may have their own sequence of how to go through the body. Many will start by looking through the hair and scalp and work their way down through the rest of the body. In our office we will keep you covered in the gown until we get to that part of the body. If there is a part of the body you do not feel comfortable exposing, we will keep that covered.
  • If any suspicious lesions are found during the exam your provider may perform a skin biopsy to further evaluate.
  • At the end of the exam, we will provide patient education for what to look for during your self-skin exams at home. Depending on your dermatological and skin cancer history, we will recommend appropriate follow up and when the next skin exam should be performed.

Chelsea Beer, PA-C