Seeing the Dermatologist? Here’s How to Prepare!
If doctors’ appointments in general make your heart race, your first visit to a dermatologist can seem particularly intimidating due to the intimacy involved.
Yes, we DO want to look at (nearly) every inch of your skin! But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be embarrassing, awkward, or uncomfortable in any way.
Here are some tips to prepare for your first skin cancer check.
• Expect to undress. You might be surprised by how many patients come in for a “skin exam” only to hesitate to strip. You may be given the option to leave your underwear and/or bra on, and that’s up to you. Just remember, we don’t have x-ray vision, so if it’s covered, we can’t see it!
• Come prepared. Consider coming with a list of “spots” that are worrisome to you. If your list is longer than 4-5 “spots,” we’ll likely skip the detailed verbal history of each area, and start the exam, pausing at each of your sites of concern to tell you what they are.
• Don’t get scary ‘cuz you’re hairy. Don’t worry if you didn’t shave your legs or underarms, or if you’re sweaty, or your feet stink. We’ve seen it all! And we don’t mind.
• Don’t stress. We sometimes stop and examine tiny spots with our hand-held magnifiers; it’s not necessarily a cause for concern – we’re good at identifying many benign lesions at first glance. If you’re not sure that we saw on your area of concern, please speak up! But chances are that we saw it, diagnosed it as benign, and we moved on.
Recommendations differ, but I tell my patients to come in for their first “baseline” head to toe skin cancer check before the age of 50. Based on your sun history and what we find at that visit, we’ll tell you how often to come back.