Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Must patients be nude for a skin exam?"
My whole family is susceptible to skin cancer, so I know that eventually I should get a complete skin exam. But I am not really comfortable being completely naked in front of strangers. Is it necessary to take off al your clothes?
As physicians, we sometimes forget how uncomfortable some of the exams and tests we put patients through in pursuit of treating illness. In the case of a skin exam, the thoroughness that is needed depends on the indication. The first question is what type skin cancer is your family susceptible to and how susceptible to it are you. many skin cancers only occur in sun exposed areas. Thus the exam could be limited to your legs, back, neck, face, arms, trunk and stomach. For other cancers, a whole skin exam is necessary. In addition, many of the best dermatologists will not allow their patients to be seen without a full skin exam because they do not want to take a chance missing something. The good news is that most physicians, especially dermatologists, do a good job of draping your body in such a manor to give you the most modesty possible during the exam. Not all of your clothes will have to be off at the same time. In the end, it will be worth it if something dangerous is caught. I suggest you schedule that appointment with a dermatologist soon to get your skin exam. You will walk away not only with your dignity in tact, but a piece mind that nothing is going unnoticed. Good luck.
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