101 in 1001 #9: Get a skin cancer check.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m really trying to focus on taking better care of my skin. Sun protection is so important, and it’s all too easy to get really excited about a fantastic tan and forget about the damage I’m doing to my skin in the process. I’m still religiously using my SPF lotion, and trying to be really good about applying and reapplying sunscreen every time I’m outdoors for extended periods. To see where I really stand on the skin front, though, I made an appointment at the beginning of the summer to see a dermatologist for skin mapping.

Skin cancer has been a problem on both sides of my family…two of my grandparents had bad issues with it, so I’ve seen firsthand how damaging the impact of melanoma can be. Fortunately, my sainted mother was absolutely religious about sunscreen when we were children, and I never fell victim to the tanning-bed trend in high school or college. I thought I was in pretty good shape going into the appointment, but it never hurts to be careful!

I went to the dermatologist I saw in high school for skin problems (oh, the glory days) and they seemed surprised to see someone my age coming in for a skin cancer check. At first I felt like kind of an idiot, but the doctor was quick to correct me: while it’s uncommon for people my age to come in, the sooner abnormalities are identified, the better chance there is that care can be provided in a non-invasive manner. She gave me major credit for it, which I naturally loved, and told me to spread the word…so here’s my PSA: get thyself to a dermatologist and have your skin checked out sooner than later!

The process itself was incredibly simple: I stripped down to my underwear, and the doctor checked me over from scalp to toes for irregular moles, extensive freckling, and other weird issues. The level of detailed attention to places like the bottoms of my feet and my hairline cracked me up…I was definitely not expecting such intense scrutiny there, but it makes sense…those spots don’t really get regular sunscreen and are often exposed to the sun, after all.

After checking me over and mapping one or two spots to watch, she gave me the all-clear and complimented my mama bear on her sunscreen diligence…apparently all those hard-fought battles to douse us in Coppertone SPF 30 paid off in skin that’s minimally freckled/wrinkled and looks great for someone my age. I’m in the clear for the next two to three years, at which point a follow-up is recommended to ensure nothing major has changed.

Friends, I can’t recommend this highly enough. If, like me, your insurance covers preventive care, this should be fully covered, and it took all of fifteen minutes. I’m enjoying the peace of mind of knowing I’m doing things right for my skin, and it’s just reinforced that time invested in care now will pay off in spades later.

More 101 in 1001 here, and more info on skin cancer screenings/skin mapping here.