3 Skin Changes You Should See a Dermatologist About Immediately
16 October 2018
Do you ever notice skin changes on your body and wonder if you should see someone about that?
Or on your partner’s or kids’ skin?
How do you know if it’s something to worry about?
Don’t want to waste the money on medical visits for nothing?
We’re making it easy for you! Here are the three changes you should ALWAYS see a dermatologist about.
3 Skin Changes to See a Dermatologist About
While there’s no need to worry excessively if you see these skin changes, you should make an appointment to get them checked out as soon as you can. If they do turn out to be something serious, the earlier you catch them and treat them, the better your outcomes will be.
- A sore that does not heal. We all get wounds on our skin from time to time. We bump, cut, graze and puncture our skin in a whole lot of ways thoughtout life. Kids can be especially prone to hurting themselves. While a bandaid is a good first option, if your wound is not healing it can be a sign that something bigger is going on, including cancer. Pay attention to how long the sore takes to heal. A small cut or graze should show signs its healing within a few days. Bigger wounds may take a week. Bites and pimples should usually disappear within a month. If something is taking longer than these guides, bring it up with a doctor. And if there are signs of serious infect (like pus or oozing) definitely see your GP for help in encouraging clean wound healing.
- New growths on the skin. As we age, we can grow new skin blemishes and largely these will be benign (though they may be cosmetically worrying). These include things like age warts or sun spots (medically, these are known as seborrhoeic keratoses). Another such benign skin growth is a skin tag (known as an acrochordan). These are bumps and bits of skin that can “hang off” the body. We can treat most benign growths if they worry you cosmetically, but it’s the risk that a growth may be cancer that should encourage you to get a dermatologist to check these.
- An existing mark or mole that changes. Benign marks on the skin, such as moles and freckles, should remain fairly stable and consistent over time. If a mole or mark does start to change, in particular if it begins to itch, bleed, change colour or shape, or begin growing, it can be a sign of something serious. See you GP and ask for a referral to a dermatologist for a specialist opinion about the changes taking place. It’s important to have these changes checked as soon as you can. Again, early diagnosis and treatment is key to a successful outcome, if these do turn out to be cancer.
Increasing the change of noticing changes
It’s all very well to know that you need to notice changes early. But seriously, how many of us a super-familiar with the lumps, bumps, marks and moles on our legs, backs, shoulders, neck or belly??
Here are a few tips to stay on top of changes on your own skin and your family’s.
Work together. Take a tip from what those raising awareness of breast cancer early detection have found – partners tend to be more familiar with a woman’s breasts than she is. Similarly, use your partner’s inherent interest in your skin to your advantage and conduct mutual, regular skin checks. Get to know each other’s skin, particularly the bits of skin that it’s difficult to be familiar with yourself (like the back of your body). Take pictures of any obvious moles, freckles and marks, so you can compare them in a few months.
Know your kids’ skin. If your kids are young, they’re not at high risk of developing cancerous skin lesions, but it doesn’t hurt to have some record of their skin for comparison purposes. Photographing any notable skin marks for comparison. Because protecting our children is of primary importance, we suggest these photographs be kept on secure storage devices, not on phones or in public folders.
Educate your teenagers. When the kids get too old to want you taking pics of their skin, educate them on knowing their own skin and ensuring they either ask you to take a look at changes they may notice, or encourage them to see a doctor if they see anything changing.
Get regular skin checks from a dermatologist
Growing up in Australia, we suggest everyone get a dermatologist to do a thorough skin check every two years, unless you’re advised to do so more frequently. Once you reach middle age, it’s generally advisable to get checks annually. If you’ve had previous skin cancer, it’s even more important that you get skin checks as often as your dermatologist suggests.
Most skin cancers are treatable and not something to get panicked over. So don’t let changes freak you out. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is also often treatable when caught early. Being aware of changes and seeking advice early is the best and safest way to keep yourself and your family skin safe.
Got more questions?
Why not make an appointment with our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, to have your skin reviewed and your questions answered. Call our friendly receptionists today to make your appointment on (02) 9953 9522.
Written by Dr Marianne Nolan.
Dr Marianne has been our cosmetic physician and skin improvement specialist for 20 years. She loves helping patients look great for their age.
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