Comprehensive Skin Checks
To protect your skin health, we recommend you come in for a comprehensive skin examination at least once every year. This annual check-up gives us the opportunity to investigate any potentially suspicious skin lesions. Should skin cancer develop, our comprehensive skin checks ensure that you have the best chance of early detection, which makes it possible to pursue appropriate treatment right away.
Preparing for Your Exam
To prepare for your exam, Dr. Kirsch recommends the following:
- Conduct a self-examination of your skin and note any new, unusual, or changing skin spots or lesions. At your appointment, you will have the opportunity to share your observations with Dr. Kirsch, and he can address your concerns.
- Do not wear makeup, especially around the eyes, as makeup serves as a shield that makes it harder to examine the skin beneath. If you are wearing makeup when you arrive, please bring makeup remover. You may also wish to bring additional makeup for reapplication after your appointment.
- Remove any nail polish. Since some skin cancers can develop under the nails. Keeping the nails free of polish enables a more thorough examination.
- If you have long hair, wear your hair loose so that Dr. Kirsch can freely examine your scalp.
What to Expect for Your Exam
For your examination, you will be asked to dress down into a hospital gown. Dr. Kirsch will conduct a comprehensive visual evaluation of your skin from head to toe, noting any abnormalities and any changes that have occurred since your last examination. Dr. Kirsch uses a dermatoscope during the evaluation. This specialized handheld magnifying glass allows for a more accurate assessment than the human eye, which means your exam will be as comprehensive as possible.
During your exam, we encourage you to ask questions and express any concerns. Dr. Kirsch can answer your questions and educate you on how to conduct self-exams at home between your comprehensive professional skin examinations. Even with time for questions and answers, most comprehensive skin checks last only about 15 minutes.
If Dr. Kirsch discovers any suspicious skin lesions during your screening, he will recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on the situation, he will either recommend simply monitoring the area or he will recommend a biopsy for laboratory evaluation (removal of part or all of the lesion). If the tissue is confirmed to be either a pre-cancerous or cancerous lesion, common treatment options include cryosurgery, electrodessication and curettage or surgical excision.
Getting a comprehensive skin check at least once per year is the best insurance for early detection of skin cancer. If you are at higher risk of have a history of skin cancer, you may need more frequent evaluations. In the meantime, the best way to protect your skin between evaluations is to minimize sun exposure, avoid sunburns or tanning, and wear sunscreen and protective clothing.