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What Should I Expect from a Dermatology Exam?

Raised skin mole.
Flat skin mole.
Dermatology is the medical field that focuses on skin health.
A dermatologist might focus on one area of skin during an exam.
It's important to communicate openly with your dermatologist during your exam.
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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2014
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When you undergo a dermatology exam, you can expect your dermatologist to ask you questions about your condition and symptoms as well as your health history. Depending on the reason for your appointment, your dermatologist may perform an examination on just the area of skin that is of concern to you or may perform a full body exam in order to identify any suspicious lesions or growths. Your dermatologist may perform a biopsy while you are in the office if he discovers any worrisome spots or growths. If he wishes for you to undergo additional tests, treatments, or begin using prescription medications, he will likely take the time to explain why they are necessary and answer any questions that you might have.

Dermatologists are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of problems with the nails, hair, or skin. As a general rule, people see a dermatologist only when they or their primary care physician have reason to suspect that they have a dermatological disease or condition. This means that many people do not develop a long-standing relationship with a dermatologist unless they have a chronic condition. For this reason, it is extremely important that you communicate openly with your dermatologist at the time of your dermatology exam. Be sure to share what you know about your medical history, your family's medical history, and any concerns that you have about your skin.

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Your dermatologist will likely examine the skin, hair, or nail problem and ask you some questions about your overall health, any medications that you use, as well as your lifestyle. Some conditions, such as rosecea, may be significantly affected by dietary issues, for example, so it is very important that you talk with your dermatologist about the types of foods you eat. Once the dermatologist is able to make a diagnosis, she may end your dermatology exam with referrals to specialists or the request that you schedule additional testing or procedures.

Many dermatologists encourage people to regularly examine their own skin and the skin of their partner in order to observe any moles or spots that could be cancerous. If you are very fair skinned, your dermatologist may recommend that you undergo a full body dermatology exam on a regular basis to monitor your skin for changes that could indicate skin cancer. As changes in moles and other skin growths may be very subtle, working with your dermatologist to monitor these spots can be a big help in the detection of skin cancer.

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