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What to do when you find a skin abnormality

Published On: Sep 26 2012 01:33:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 08 2012 03:09:28 PM CDT
Doctor, patient

By Pure Matters

Each year, thousands of people find irregular spots, bumps, or sores that do not heal on their skin. Many assume that the bumps are nothing to worry about. Often, these skin changes have been growing unobserved for years. Some may be malignant. Others are not.

Josh was brushing his teeth one morning when he noticed a small bump on the side of his nose. “Was that there yesterday?” he thought. “Surely I’m not getting acne at my age!” He shrugged and assured himself that it was no big deal. Over the next few days, however, he began to realize that the bump was not going away. Josh tried not to worry, but every time he looked in the mirror, the bump seemed to get bigger. He found himself self-consciously covering up his nose when he spoke to others and had to make an effort not to pick at it. He considered making a doctor’s appointment, but felt silly about making an appointment for something that might turn out to be a pimple.

Each year, thousands of people find irregular spots, bumps, or sores that do not heal on their skin. Many assume that the bumps are nothing to worry about. Often, these skin changes have been growing unobserved for years. Some may be malignant. Others are not.

To increase the odds of finding skin cancer as early as possible, the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) recommends performing a skin self-exam once a month. You can do a skin self-exam by visually checking all areas of your skin, using a mirror for hard-to-see spots. Areas that get the most sunlight, such as the face, hands, legs, and forearms, are particularly at risk so you should examine them carefully. You can ask your partner, a friend, or a family member to help you with areas that are difficult to see, such as your back or under your hair.

If you don’t know whether the spot is abnormal, if you are unsure whether your insurance will cover the expense, or if you can’t afford to make an appointment with a dermatologist, the AAD provides free skin screenings at participating doctors during limited times of the year. These doctors cannot make a diagnosis, but they can tell you if you should see a dermatologist. Visit the AAD website or call your local health department to find a nearby doctor and the dates the screenings are being performed.

Josh called to make an appointment with his doctor, his mind slightly more at ease because a professional would be examining him soon. He flipped open his calendar and on the first of every month he wrote, “Perform skin self-exam.” Hopefully, Josh’s bump is completely normal. But even if he finds another suspicious skin change, with the help of regular skin self-exams, the AAD’s free screening program, and his doctor, Josh’s chances for catching any problems in their early stages are much better.

Source: http://resources.purematters.com/healthy-body/beauty-skin-care/what-to-do-when-you-find-a-skin-abnormality