Visiting your dermatologist for a full body skin examination is your best protection for staying free of skin cancer. Not everyone’s risk for skin cancer is the same, and there are some warning signs that can put you at a higher risk than others.
If you are asking yourself whether or not you should schedule a skin checkup with your dermatologist, here are five factors to consider:
#1 Your Skin and Hair Type
Do you have red or blonde hair, fair skin, freckles or light-colored eyes? If so, you need to stay on top of your annual skin check-ups. These features make you more likely to get skin cancer.
#2 Your Number of Moles
If you have more than 50 moles, you should go ahead and get an annual skin check on your calendar. Moles that are asymmetrical, unusually large or changing in shape, size or color should be examined and closely monitored by your dermatologist.
#3 Your Family History
Your family’s history with melanoma should be strongly considered. This is the most serious of all skin cancers. Most melanomas develop around or on existing moles. Tell your doctor if you have an immediate family member who has had melanoma.
#4 Your Personal History
A telltale sign that you should get your skin checked on a regular basis is if you have a personal history of basal cell and squamous cell cancers or actinic keratosis. If untreated, about 1% of actinic keratosis turn into cancer. You will also be advised to have a comprehensive skin check if you have had any dysplastic nevi or strange moles in the past. Any suspicious moles need to be closely monitored for changes or growth.
#5 Your Sun Exposure and/or Tanning Bed Exposure
Last but not least, you need to be honest about your sun exposure if you are deciding on whether or not to have your skin checked. Exposing your skin to UVA and UVB rays for long periods of time will greatly increase your chances for skin cancer, even if you apply sunscreen. Frequent sessions in the tanning bed also put you at risk. In fact, if you’re under 30, weekly trips to the tanning bed increase your skin cancer risks by 75%.
Whether these factors pertain to you or not, it is always best to keep a close eye on your skin and call a skin care specialist if you notice any changes. A small skin concern that is treated promptly by a dermatologist goes a long way in protecting your overall health.