Know When to Go Get Your Skin Checked Out
Skin cancer—such as melanoma—is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. In fact, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in this country than all other cancers combined.
With so many people at risk for developing skin cancer, keeping an eye out for changes in your skin is vital to early detection and treatment of the disease. That said, when should you worry about the moles and other marks you have on your skin? Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors involved with developing skin cancer:
- Being exposed to certain substances, such as arsenic or radiation
- Having a history of more than five severe sunburns as a child or adolescent
- Having fair skin, which makes you less protected against ultraviolet (UV) radiation because your skin has less melanin
- Living in a sunny and/or high-altitude climate, where the sunlight tends to be stronger
- Possessing a weakened immune system, such as if you are taking an immunosuppressant drug following an organ transplant
- Spending too much time in the sun—or in a tanning bed—especially if you’re not wearing protective clothing and sunscreen
If you’re unsure about whether or not to see a dermatologist, here are a few other things to consider:
- If you have a family history or personal history of skin cancer, it’s better to schedule an appointment rather than run the risk. A family or personal history increases your chances of (re)developing skin cancer at some point in your lifetime.
- If you have a mole that seems to be larger than others on your body, has irregular or smudged edges or is uneven in color/has some pinkness, have it looked at.
- If a mole becomes painful, itchy or starts to bleed, consult a dermatologist as soon as possible.
- If a mole suddenly appears during your adult years, schedule an appointment to have it checked out.
How to Properly Examine Your Skin
The first step to giving yourself a thorough examination is removing all of your clothes and finding the best mirror to see yourself in. When checking, pay close attention to all of your skin, even the parts that are not exposed to sunlight or seem unlikely to have a suspicious mole, including:
- Back and the back of the neck
- Backs of the knees
- Between the fingers and toes
- Soles of the feet
- Under the fingernails
While inspecting every inch of the surface of your body, be sure to follow the ABCDEs of moles for detecting melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers:
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half
- Border: The border or edges of the mole are blurred, ragged or smudgy
- Color: The mole has different colors in it, such as blue, black, white or red
- Diameter: The diameter of the mole is larger than the diameter of a pencil
- Evolving: The mole looks different from others and/or is changing in shape, color or size
Who to See If You’re Suspicious of a Mole
Of course, any issues with your skin—especially suspected skin cancer—should be addressed by a dermatologist, but what if you could go beyond a standard dermatology appointment for your needs?
At Citron & Citron, Dr. Cheryl Citron and Dr. Barry Citron offer a unique, comprehensive approach to skin care: dermatology and plastic surgery combined into one thorough session known as the Citron & Citron Complete Consultation (CCCC). Though it may initially seem like one approach has little to do with the other, nothing could be further from the truth; both are committed to your physical well-being and specialize in managing different aspects for the skin. This is especially true if Mohs surgery becomes necessary to remove a cancerous mole from the body. Though it is the most effective technique for removing certain types of cancer, it can leave a scar, which falls into the plastic surgery realm.
Don’t let skin cancer get the better of you. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our specialists, contact us today.