What is a skin scan?

Many people refer to a total body skin examination as a skin scan. This examination is done by a qualified dermatologist to evaluate patients’ skin for malignant and pre-malignant lesions (growths). Skin cancer is a significant problem for people who have had significant sun exposure at any time during their life—even as a child or young adult.  During a skin scan, every square inch of skin on the face and body is carefully examined. This can only be done accurately by a trained professional. An accurate diagnosis of a malignant melanoma can be life saving. I recommend that anybody who has had significant sun exposure in the past be examined every six months starting as a young adult. Any of my patients who have had melanomas or other significant skin cancer are asked to return every three months for a total body skin scan. It should be remembered that the skin is the largest organ of the body and not only is it vulnerable in itself, but it can also be a window to other medical conditions within the body.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661

What’s new with tanning salons?

Some places are now making it illegal for people under the age of 16 to use tanning salons. This is because tanning salons significantly damage the skin and predispose people to skin cancer. Under no circumstances should individuals visit tanning salons. This is especially true for children and young adults.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661

Are tanning beds safe?

Research has shown an increase in a variety of skin cancers in people who have exposed themselves to tanning beds. It has long been known that there has been an increased incidence of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and deadly melanomas in people who have used tanning salons. Research has now established an increase of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) at a young age linked to the increase in use of tanning salons by teenagers and young adults. In my practice, I encourage my patients to avoid the ultraviolet tanning salons. The spray tanning salons are not harmful.

I would much prefer a very short exposure to natural sunlight either in the morning or late afternoon, avoiding intense midday sun, to the use of tanning salons for those individuals who insist on being tan.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661

Do you ever look in the mirror and examine the skin on your back?

Don’t neglect your back! Because many people don’t look at their backs, they just assume that nothing is happening there and that their back skin is fine. However, when I do a total body exam, a careful look at my patient’s back is very important. Atypical moles, which may be precursors of malignant melanomas, as well as growths that can become basal and squamous cell carcinomas need special attention. In addition, significant amounts of sun damage is often seen on the back. In many cases, treating this damaged skin can prevent future malignancies.

Furthermore, the back is also frequently a site for breakouts, usually very large, and with a tendency towards scarring. If you have not had a body scan which included a thorough look at your back, I highly recommend it. Skin on the back can be treated very similarly as I treat skin on the face, hands and arms.

 So don’t neglect your back in taking care of your total skin!

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661

Do you know how many main types of skin cancer there are?

There are three main types of skin cancer:  basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. In the majority of cases, these are sun-induced skin cancers however they can also arise in non sun-exposed areas of the body.  It is helpful to be aware of all three types.

The classic basal cell carcinoma looks like a pearly papule (small bump); however it can also look like a dry, red, scaly patch of skin that does not heal.  There are also variations in these appearances.  A squamous cell carcinoma usually looks red and scaly, but can also ulcerate and bleed.  Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are frequently found on the face, neck, arms, back and chest, but can occur on the legs and abdomen as well. They are even found inside of and behind the ears.  They are usually painless and usually do not itch. The most serious type of skin cancer is the malignant melanoma as it can spread throughout the entire body. These cancers can arise in an existing mole or can newly develop on normal skin.  Any irregularly dark skin growth should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Occasionally, a melanoma can be skin-colored as well.

In conclusion, any growth on the skin that appears unusual in any way should be evaluated by a dermatologist.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661

Should you seek out tanning salons for a “winter tan”?

Absolutely not.  Tanning salons are very harmful to your skin.  I personally have seen a higher incidence of malignant melanomas developing in patients who have visited tanning salons.  Malignant melanomas are extremely serious and sometimes fatal, skin cancers.  They can spread internally throughout the entire body.  They can arise from normal skin or from pre-existing moles.  Any change in the size, color or shape of an existing mole or the development of a new mole as an adult should be carefully evaluated by a dermatologist for the possibility of malignant melanoma.

I recommend total body exams/scans, done by a dermatologist with expertise in removing atypical moles, every six months for patients who have had significant sun or ultraviolet light exposure on their skin.

When doing a skin exam on yourself, you should check every square inch of skin on your body including your scalp, ano-genital area, and the bottoms of your feet.  Don’t forget to also look at the skin under your nails.  Use a mirror to completely check the backside of your body.  It should be noted that melanomas do not always appear in sun-exposed areas.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661