The Importance of Seeing a Dermatologist Regularly
Something as easy as seeing a dermatologist on a regular basis, is also something non-skin cancer patients often don’t prioritize. They’ll likely get their annual physicals and semi-annual teeth cleanings, but the dermatologist doesn’t always have the same sense of urgency.
Why seeing a dermatologist is so important
The same reason why you see other doctors, to prevent serious health conditions, is the same reason you should see a dermatologist regularly. Your skin is the largest organ on your body and it’s important we’re giving it the attention it deserves! Skin cancer can be so easily preventable - and furthermore, it can be treatable if caught early. Yes, self-checks at home are important, but they’re not nearly as effective as a check from a professional. And let’s be honest, it’s fairly difficult to check every inch of your skin on your own!
Telling your loved ones to visit the dermatologist
Prior to my melanoma diagnosis, my boyfriend didn’t know much about melanoma. He said he’d tell you it was something that happened on the heads of old, bald men. (This is sort of funny, because I was 29 years old when I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and I was the furthest thing away from being bald). Even after a year of treatment and me constantly nagging him about the dermatologist, he was still reluctant to go. Probably because he had never been before and he didn’t quite realize how easy it was. Finally, he went and realized it was easy, breezy. He didn’t even have to have anything removed!
Learning to prioritize dermatologist visits
Prior to my first melanoma diagnosis, I also didn’t visit the dermatologist frequently. I considered them a specialist that I would go to on an as-needed basis instead of something that should be part of my regular healthcare routine. Obviously, after being diagnosed with stage 2A melanoma, I took my dermatologist visits more seriously. I was on a regular schedule from there on out and never skipped an appointment. It just became part of my routine.
The dermatologist is only a piece of the equation
Although going to the dermatologist is very important, it isn’t always the entire answer. You know your body best and you have to pay attention to things that are different. I noticed some lumps and bumps underneath my skin and it turned out to be metastatic melanoma. These were things that a dermatologist might not have necessarily seen and or recognized because everything was under my skin and in very vital organs. But my own personal awareness of my body and things that felt different and/or out of place, told me that something was wrong and I needed to seek professional help.
How do you communicate to friends and family how important it is to visit the dermatologist?
Do you check the UV index before leaving the house?