How do dermatologist conduct full-body exams?


Quick Answer

Dermatologists conduct full-body exams by examining the patient’s skin from head to toe, including the scalp, and may perform a biopsy of certain areas or examine them thoroughly with a dermatoscope, a specialized magnifying glass. These areas include lesions, moles and markings, notes the Skin Cancer Foundation. To ensure all parts of the skin are visible and accessible, patients are advised not to wear makeup or nail polish and ensure their hair can be easily parted.

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Full Answer

During a skin exam, patients may be asked questions about their family history, medical history and personal habits, states the Skin Cancer Foundation. A history of skin cancer in the patient’s family raises his risk of developing skin cancer. Certain medications have the side effects of raising skin sensitivity or weakening the immune system. The patient’s pattern and frequency of use of tanning beds and sunscreen also influence his chances of developing skin cancer.

A biopsy involves removing a skin sample from the area of interest and examining it for cancer, explains the Skin Cancer Foundation. Any cancerous area identified by the biopsy is subsequently removed. A noncancerous abnormality revealed by the biopsy may be either removed or monitored over a period of several weeks or months to observe its development. The biopsy is performed under local anesthetic.

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