Full body skin exams are an important tool in screening patients for benign or cancerous lesions that they may not have been able to see or recognize on their own. From head to toe and back to front, we inspect the skin for any suspicious growths. This quick and painless preventive measure is an invaluable tool in the early detection of skin cancer as well as many other dermatological conditions.
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common skin cancers are:
Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading. Regular full body screening is recommended. A biopsy is performed to properly diagnose suspected cancerous growths.
Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size and location of the tumor. Most options remove the entire growth and are usually effective. Removal procedures are usually simple and require only a local anesthetic in an outpatient setting.
Moles are benign pigmented spots of skin that may appear tan, brown or black. Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a professional immediately:
Depending on their depth, location and color, as well as the patient's skin type, age and other factors, treatment for benign but unattractive birthmarks may take the form of laser or pulsed light therapy, microdermabrasion or surgical excision.
Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. Different warts respond to different treatments; some go away on their own. Salicylic acid products (in the form of drops, gels, pads and bandages) can help self-treatment of many warts by dissolving the keratin protein that makes up the wart and the dead skin above it. Others can be removed via liquid nitrogen freezing or electrical stimulation. Surgery may be recommended for painful or large warts that do not respond to these treatments.
A skin tag is a common type of skin growth that looks like a piece of hanging skin and most often develops on the neck, underarms, eyelids and under the breasts often as a result of clothing rubbing against the skin. Most skin tags are acquired, although some people are born with them.
While skin tags are not cancerous and don't cause problems unless they are continuously irritated, many people choose to have them removed for precautionary or cosmetic purposes. There are several different ways to effectively remove skin tags, including freezing, burning and removing with scissors. Small tags may be removed without the use of anesthesia, while larger ones may require a local anesthetic. These treatments are usually effective in removing the growth, but may cause temporary skin discoloration or bleeding. Your doctor will decide which treatment option is best for you.
Sun damage can affect any area of your skin as a result of long-term exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Sun damage most commonly occurs on the face, hands and arms, and may lead to sun spots, age spots, rough skin and wrinkles. Years of sun exposure can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
The best treatment against sun damage is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It is important to wear sunscreen lotion on a daily basis and avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Existing sun damage can be treated through skin procedures like BOTOX®, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and intense pulsed light therapy.