One of the blessings of living in Australia is the reliably beautiful summer weather. Beaches abound, there is epic nature around the country, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy fun in the sun. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this. With so much sun exposure, Australians are particularly susceptible to sun damage. This can cause everything from sunburns right through to skin cancer, so it's a very serious issue in the country. With two-thirds of Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, it is extremely important to look after your skin and have regular skin checks. But what actually does a skin check entail?
Skin checks will typically take a maximum of 30 minutes, and the actual length of the examination will depend on the number of moles and marks that you have your body. Before your skin check, it's a very good idea to inform your doctor of any changes you have noticed to marks on your skin because these can be potential signs of dangerous skin damage.
Your doctor will use an instrument called a dermatoscope, which is essentially a device that will scan over your skin with an extreme magnifier (up to 40 times) and a light source to illuminate any problem areas. For this examination, you will be required to removed all clothes apart from underwear so that your doctor can give as thorough of a check as possible. The use of a dermatoscope is totally pain-free. Your doctor may also want to take a photo of any particular area with many markings so that comparisons can be compared between past and future examinations.
If any moles or spots look suspicious, your doctor will either take a sample of them or remove them completely under local anaesthetic. The sample will be sent to a laboratory to determine whether it is cancerous or not. Fortunately, if detected early, removing the spot will also remove the cancer. If something cancerous is found and managed, it is a good idea to have follow-up appointments every few months. If not, around once a year should be sufficient to ensure you are in good health.
Of course, skin checks happen after sun exposure, and prevention is always better than cure. If you intend to spend time in the sun, ensure that your skin is covered, that those parts of skin exposed have SPF applied, and that you are wearing a hat to keep the sun out of your face.