Skin Exam

Full-body skin exams are an important tool in screening patients for benign or cancerous lesions that they may not have been able to see or recognize on their own. During a skin exam, Dr. Popkin will inspect your skin for any susicous growths, moles, or lesions. A dermascope (a special light source with a magnifying lens) is often used to give us a better view of suspicious spots. This quick and painless preventive measure is an invaluable tool in the early detection of skin cancer as well as many other dermatological conditions.

A skin exam by a dermatologist is done if you have:

  • Suspicious moles or skin lesions.
  • Symptoms of early skin cancer.
  • A history of previous skin cancer.
  • 50 or more moles.
  • Atypical moles (dysplastic nevi).
  • A family history of skin cancer.

Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular lesions, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most moles are harmless, they may develop into cancer.


The ABCDE rule of detection means watching for:



Between visits to your dermatologist, you should perform skin self-exam at home. Everyone, not only those with an increased risk of developing skin cancer, should perform regular skin self-exams. Examining your skin for suspicious moles and other lesions could save your life. No one is immune to skin cancer.


The Body Mole Map is a great illustrated guide that shows how to examine your skin.  It is important for you to examine your entire body as skin cancer can occur anywhere, not only on areas frequently exposed to the sun. Be sure to check your back, scalp, underarms, genitals, palms, soles, and skin between the toes and fingers. You should be familiar with your birthmarks, blemishes, and moles so you know what they look like and can spot changes. As you examine your skin, look for changes in the size, color, shape, or texture of a mark on your skin.  Click here for a video from the American Academy of Dermatology website on how to perform a self skin exam.


  • Mole that is different from the rest, itches, bleeds, or is changing in any way — even if the mole is smaller than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Sore that never fully heals
  • Translucent growth with rolled edges
  • Brown or black streak underneath a nail
  • Cluster of slow-growing, shiny pink or red lesions
  • Waxy-feeling scar
  • Flat or slightly depressed lesion that feels hard to the touch


If you find a suspicious lesion, please call us to schedule an appointment so Dr. Popkin can properly evaluate it. When making the appointment, be sure that the person making the appointment knows why you want to see the doctor. Skin cancer has a high cure rate when detected early.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for a skin check, please call us at 216-844-8200 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Popkin at the University Hospitals at Westlake.