Skin Exams – Do I need one?

The summer can take a toll on our skin! From long, sunny days to biting insects and time at the pool or beach, you may be noticing some changes on your skin.

While any time of year is a good time to have a skin check, the end of summer can be a great opportunity to complete this essential part of your preventive medical care.

A skin exam, commonly called ‘cancer screens’ or ‘spot checks’, is completed by a trained dermatology professional such as a Doctor or Physician Assistant, and takes place in a medical office. During the exam, your skin will be evaluated from the top of your scalp to the tips of your toes. Virtually all health insurance plans will cover this preventive screen; however, if you are unsure of your benefits we recommend to contact your insurance company.

The exam itself only takes a few minutes but is so important in maintaining your skin health and screening against irregular moles and skin cancers. When caught early, skin cancers can be easy to treat; however, if they are left to grow and fester they can become very unsightly and dangerous. Some cancers, like melanoma, if left unchecked or untreated can travel (metastasize) to other areas of your body and become deadly.

While a yearly in-office skin exam is recommended for all patients, we also recommend assessing your skin at home on a monthly basis to look for the following:

  • Asymmetric moles
  • Borders that are irregular
  • Color that is inconsistent, or if a spot has two or more colors in it
  • Diameter larger than a pencil eraser (approximately 6mm)
  • Evolution of a spot. This includes moles or freckles that may be changing in how they look or feel.

If there are any spots on your skin that you are concerned about, or if you would like to make an appointment for your head to toe skin exam please contact us.

Brooke Moss, PA-C, MPH is a board certified dermatology Physician Assistant. She is currently accepting new patients in our Edina and Downtown Minneapolis offices.