Summer Is Long Over, Have You Had Your Skin Checked?

summer is long over have you had you skin checkedSkin diseases can be unsightly. But worse, they can be deadly. For the average person, it can be hard to know if a rash or bump on the skin is simply irritating or needs a professional look. Plus, during the summer months when the skin is more exposed, it is common for new skin conditions to emerge. The fall – when your skin is less exposed – is an ideal time to have your annual dermatology check-up.

Begin With Self Skin Exams

If you have never been to the dermatologist, you may need an initial appointment to discuss what to look for at home. Many dermatologists will educate their patients on how to do self exams. It is very important to know your body and do regular skin checks at home. Most often, problematic conditions are first discovered at home, not in a doctor’s office.

At-Home Skin Exams Are Not Enough

While self exams are essential, they are not enough. Studies suggest that self skin exams only identify half of skin cancers and precancerous changes. In addition, the areas that are difficult to identify are the 3 B’s: your back, your butt, and the back of your head. Since the average person may not know their body thoroughly or be able to see all parts of their body well enough, something new or problematic on the skin may be overlooked. Additionally, while most often concerning dermatological conditions are first caught at home, without a medical degree, not everything is caught with self exams.

Annual, full body check-ups with your dermatologist are recommended for everyone. There are more diagnoses in dermatology than any other medical specialty, which makes the correct diagnosis often challenging. Sometimes something might appear minor, while actually indicating a more serious condition. Only a dermatologist is qualified to do a medical dermatology evaluation and give a dermatological diagnosis. The good news is that the combination of self skin exams and dermatologist exams resulted in early detection, which leads to greater survival (Cancer, 2012 Aug 1; 118(15): 3725-34).

Summer-Related Skin Conditions

During the summer, your skin is exposed to large amounts of sunlight. There are many preventable summer skin problems. Most sun-related skin conditions are minor and short-lived, such as acne caused by excessive sweating, and dry, irritated skin caused by too much exposure to chlorine or air conditioning.

Sun allergies affect a minority of people during the summer. Allergens can affect the skin, causing rashes or hives to break out. The skin becomes reddened, inflamed and covered in bumps. Most often, this allergic reaction will go away quickly, but sometimes an allergic rash can last into the fall and a visit to the dermatologist is necessary to completely heal an allergic skin reaction.

The biggest concern with summer sun exposure is that sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Skin cancer is primarily caused by too much sun exposure. There are three main types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Reducing your exposure to UV radiation by seeking shade and using a high SPF sunscreen are essential to reducing your risk of skin cancer. Early detection gives the greatest chance for successful treatment options.

Fall-Related Skin Conditions

While the fall is the time that many summer-related skin conditions are detected, there are a number of skin conditions that occur often when the weather changes. Many people suffer from seasonal outbreaks of eczema, especially when the weather turns from warm to cool. Eczema often flares in the fall due to thermoregulation. When the body has been subject to the sudden shift in temperature and humidity, it is common for those who suffer from eczema to find this time very difficult. Additionally, stress-related skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea, often flare up due to going back to school and accommodating work, school and home routines.

With the summer sun long behind us, now is the perfect time to get your skin checked by a board-certified dermatologist. Contact Dr. Kaplan at our Adult and Pediatric Dermatology office to schedule an appointment today!

Adult and Pediatric Dermatology
4601 W. 109th St., Suite 116  •  Overland Park, Kansas 66211  •  913-469-1115