How Is a Complete Skin Exam Performed?


During a complete skin exam, a patient must remove all clothing to enable a doctor or dermatologist to view the entire body, according to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. The doctor then examines all areas of the skin, including the hands, arms, legs, feet, torso, scalp, mouth and external genitalia.

A patient is asked to wear a hospital gown during the procedure so the doctor is able to view all areas of the body with ease, while the patient still maintains a sense of modesty, according to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. While it is recommended to have a full body skin exam annually, based on personal and family history, a doctor may recommend having this type of comprehensive exam more frequently.

A complete body skin exam is typically performed on people at high risk for skin cancer, including those with a family or personal history of the disease or a high frequency of moles on the skin, according to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. While common thinking is that melanoma only occurs in areas exposed to the sun, it can appear anywhere on the body. If suspect moles are discovered as part of the examination, a biopsy is taken and sent to a laboratory to determine if the cells are cancerous, precancerous or benign.