2018-07-01 / OnCall

The Skin-ny on Dermatology

Protect your skin and keep it looking healthy all year round.
Dr. Lorraine Rosamilia

Many people have their first exposure to a dermatologist when struggling with acne, eczema or psoriasis, but certain risk factors warrant skin cancer screening at a younger age.

“Although there is no guideline-based age that skin cancer screenings should begin, if you have a family history of skin cancer, very fair skin, many nevi (moles), lots of sunburns as a child or exposure to tanning beds, you should begin seeing a dermatologist earlier in life,” says Geisinger dermatologist Dr. Lorraine Rosamilia.

After the dermatologist determines your risk factors and any spots on the skin that should be watched or biopsied, then the frequency of skin checks is determined from there. It’s not like the dentist or a yearly physical; only at-risk groups have regular check-ups.

Know what to expect at your check-up
Now for some good news: Skin exams are a breeze, with most visits being about 15 minutes. You are typically placed in a gown, and the physician looks at your skin for any abnormal growths and answers any questions you have about your skin.

If your doctor notices something new or unusual, they may biopsy the growth for testing. This can be done in office with a bit of localized anesthetic before they remove a small portion or all of the growth, depending on what the dermatologist is testing for.

“This is a great time to ask your dermatologist for advice on self-exams and to instruct family members about it as well,” says Rosamilia. “Regularly checking your skin at home is an important line of defense — some instances of skin cancer are identified by the patient or a family member at home.”

Do regular self-checks
Beyond the all-important self-exam, you can protect your skin from cancer, wrinkles and dark spots by being mindful of sun exposure with a hat or UV-protective clothing, wearing sunscreen daily and dropping any tanning bed habits.

“You should also be aware of any prescriptions that may increase your sensitivity to sunlight,” says Rosamilia. Although past sun exposure, family history and genetics are impossible to change, addressing risk factors in the present and future gives you a chance every day to prevent skin cancer. •SCM

Geisinger dermatologist Dr. Lorraine Rosamilia was recently named one of “Pennsylvania’s Top Physicians Under 40” by the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Rosamilia has been practicing with Geisinger since 2009.

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