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May 25, 2022

Why you should see a dermatologist at least once a year

Adult Health Dermatology

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Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? Not only does this vital organ protect everything it covers — it also prevents dehydration, regulates temperature, and houses the nerve endings that enable your sense of touch.

Being your body’s largest organ might be reason enough alone to make an appointment with your dermatologist, but an annual skin screening is important for many other reasons. Here are five:

1. You notice a change in your skin

You should check your own skin regularly and note any changes. New moles or freckles (or changes in their shape or color), skin tags, or unexplained rashes are all things to share with a dermatologist. An annual screening will help catalog these changes and allow your doctor to more closely inspect anything that they believe warrants further attention.

2. Family history

Many skin conditions — including cancer — have a hereditary component. If anyone in your family has had a bout of skin cancer, you should make an annual screening a priority. The earlier skin cancer is caught, the more easily treatable it is.

3. You spend a lot of time in the sun

If you’re exposed to the sun frequently, it’s important to have a dermatologist keep an eye on your skin. This is especially true if you’re prone to sunburn (or have had some bad ones), but any type of regular exposure deserves care.

4. You have a lot of freckles, or moles

If you have fair skin, freckles, or some moles, it’s important to have them looked at frequently. An annual exam includes a close look at moles or skin discoloration that follows the ABCDE rule: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. Moles that have these characteristics may be a precursor for skin cancer.

5. Acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions

Many people first see the dermatologist to help manage acne when they are younger. In addition to acne, skin conditions such as psoriasis, wrinkles from aging, or scarring are all reasons to make an annual visit. The dermatologist will track the progression of these conditions and offer proactive treatment options.

A dermatologist can treat more than 3,000 different conditions. Many of these are best caught early to enable the best treatment options. This means an annual screening, before you have any symptoms, is essential.

If you don’t already have a dermatologist, your primary care physician or health insurer can provide you with a helpful referral to get your first screening scheduled.

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