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Why Annual Skin Examinations Are So Important

Your skin is an organ, just like the heart, or the liver, or the stomach. In fact, it’s the largest organ in your body and it does a lot more than most people realize. Your skin is a major player in regulating your temperature. It protects your bones and organs from infections. It keeps you from dehydrating or from holding too much fluid. It even makes vitamin D from the sun.

Keeping your skin healthy is a lot more important than just looking good. Keeping your skin healthy means treating any of those small cuts and scrapes we all get. It also means using moisturizer, or a drying agent, depending on the oil quality of your skin. It also means checking regularly for signs of problems: infections, disease, and skin cancer.

Infections happen quickly after the skin is broken by a cut, scrape, or insect bite. It’s important that you see your doctor if you suspect you have an infection. But skin diseases and cancers can sneak up on you. Psoriasis may start with just a few dry patches.

Importance of skin exams

Skin cancer may just look like an itchy spot, or a mole that changed shape. And that’s if you can see it. Let’s be honest, there are parts of your body that are difficult to see. Maybe your partner looks at your back, but it’s darn hard for you to see your own spine. Does your partner know what she or he is looking at?

That’s why it’s so important to see a dermatologist for a yearly exam. Allen A. Flood, MD, can see areas that are out of reach for you and examine anything that looks suspicious. What kinds of things can your dermatologist head off?

Skin cancer

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year than all other cancers combined, with one in five people diagnosed before they turn 70. Skin cancer types are split between melanoma and nonmelanoma.

Nonmelanoma skin cancers are the most common form and most arise from exposure to the sun. These are often treated by removing the cancerous lesion. Melanomas are far more dangerous. One person dies of melanoma every hour. Melanomas may also be a response to the sun. Melanomas can be found on people of all races and all ages.

Skin diseases

No one likes to think that they have a disease, but that dry patch or that blister may be a sign that your body is fighting a serious illness. Rosacea often starts with the appearance of sunburn, then it may look like sunburn with acne. Psoriasis just feels like a dry patch, but it spreads over the body, leaving cracked, itchy skin in its wake.

Other diseases are far rarer. So rare, in fact, that you might not even know they exist. Epidermolysis bullosa starts with a small blister, that may even appear like a small insect bite or hives. But then the blister spreads. Alopecia can sneak up on you, starting with a thinning spot, and ending up with hair loss all over the body.

Good news!

But there is good news. The key to treating all these diseases is early detection. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that 99% of patients survive when melanoma is detected, and it’s removed and treated early. Early detection of nonmelanoma means a smaller incision when the lesion is removed and a much smaller or almost nonexistent scar. Treating skin diseases early means that you have less discomfort and can catch the illness before it causes major scarring.

How do you fit one more exam in your already full life? It’s easy, just think about your “birthday suit.” Give Dr. Flood a call around your birthday and schedule your annual skin exam. You can give yourself the gift of good health.

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