Dr. Kauvar gives advice about the 3 things you should always get checked by a dermatologist.
“There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma,” says Arielle Kauvar, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist and founding director of New York Laser and Skin Care. “Each type has different appearances, but they have early warning signs you can watch out for.” Dr. Kauvar says the American Academy of Dermatology recommends self-exams at least once a month. “This is especially so if you have a lot of moles or freckles, or if you have a family history of skin issues.”
The majority of the time, these conditions stem from sun exposure. “Over 95 percent of basal and squamous cell melanoma are caused by the sun. Melanoma, on the other hand, has a 20 percent risk for areas that don’t ever see the sun—it can be inherited.” Dr. Kauvar notes it can be tricky deciphering between temporary spots, freckles, and moles on your own. “Whenever you’re not sure, you should see a derm—we don’t expect individuals to diagnose themselves,” she adds. Phew!