Dermatological Care in México

Playa del Carmen statue

Sixteen years ago I had skin cancer (in my eye!) so any weird moles that pop up on my body are of instant concern. I get yearly dermatology exams and my last one was seven months ago. Yes, I know it’s probably a bad idea to move to the tropics when my skin doesn’t like the sun, but you gotta live your life the way you wanna. And it’s just lovely here with wonderful healthcare!

Anyway, back to weird moles. I had this one on my chest just under my tattoo that kept getting bigger. It’s one that I hadn’t noticed before. That’s never a good sign! Cancer is no joke! Then while I was living in Costa Rica, it got scaly. FFS! Really not good. And it got these dark spots in it. The ABC rules of skin cancer were freaking me out! I didn’t like it one bit.

Suspicious mole
This is the offending mole that was freaking me out. I took this after part of it fell off. Turns out: not a mole!

I went scrounging through photos to find a picture of what this mole looked like before. It was difficult as I don’t wear low-cut tops very often, but I finally found something from five years ago. In the photo, it was nearly non-existent and looked completely unremarkable. No bueno.

I need a skin doctor!

I did a bit of recon and found a highly rated dermatologist somewhat near where I would live in México. I did some WhatsApp communication with her office and they put me on the wait list. The mole got crustier and bigger and uglier. And then part of it fell off. WTF! Moles don’t fall off… it’s probably not a mole. Sigh of relief.

I made it to México and settled in. Within a week, I got a text that an appointment with the dermatologist opened up for the next day. I decided to go just in case I was wrong about the whole ‘this is probably not a mole’ thing. It would suck to be wrong.

Plus, they clearly posted the rates on their website: $50 for a visit and $250 if something has to get cut off and reviewed by a pathologist for cancer. Totally reasonable. I think I paid around $200 just for a normal visit to my derm in Seattle, and that was with insurance. The US is totally doing it wrong!

Mrs. ItchyFeet in large chair
Welcome to Playa del Carmen, México!

Should I walk there?

Why not walk to the appointment? I don’t have a car and the bus doesn’t go out that way. The walk took me under the elevated freeway, which was surprisingly lovely. They painted all the pylons with gorgeous murals. Plus, it was all cool and shaded. It’s hot here in Playa del Carmen. Unfortunately, the freeway comes back down to earth after a while. Then I was just walking along a very busy and loud freeway. Nope.

Time for an adventure! I headed away from the freeway and just kinda zig-zagged my way through all these burrows. Sometimes there were sidewalks, sometimes the road was dirt. Sometimes cars stopped for stop signs, most times they did not. You had to look up so you wouldn’t smack your head into some low hanging sign or wire or tree. Also, you had to look down, so you didn’t fall into any holes. You had to look in every direction so you didn’t get run over. No dying!

Very large hole in sidewalk
So you are walking down the sidewalk and all of a sudden there is just a giant human-swallowing hole! You could die!

I made it to the appointment in plenty of time. Very sweaty and happy I brought water. The visit was smooth and painless. The weird mole was, in fact, not a mole (seborrhoeic keratosis). However, the dermatologist did a full body exam and found a suspicious mole on my left arm. I’ll be back in four months to see if it needs to be removed. She gave me a bunch of free sunscreen samples to try. I’m getting too much sun for everyone’s liking. Sigh.

No need for insurance.

Paid for the entire visit at the front desk. $50. There was no secret billing or added fees. No sending anything to insurance (which is an entire industry making billions just to be the middle-person). No billing me some unknowable amount later. Straight billing. This is what healthcare should be. I mentioned that my in-laws might do some dental tourism now that they no longer have dental insurance. She highly recommended the dental work here in México.

Gorgeous sidewalk art with crocodile
Everywhere you look in Playa del Carmen there is amazing street art! Love this one!

I stopped by a lovely taco stand for Gorditas de Chicharron afterword and then tried in vain to find fragrance-free soap at the mall. They really like perfume in cleaning supplies here and I’m allergic to all things smelly. I will keep looking. I did think about taking a cab home but was too stubborn to actually do it.

Ended up on the wrong side of the freeway! That is when I noticed that there were periodic breaks in the freeway barriers. And people would run across the freeway from break to break. Um… scary. You would see a person enter onto the freeway via a hole in the barrier and book it to the freeway median. Then run the rest of the way across the freeway to the other side. I guess this is normal here. No thanks.

Finally, another underpass and I found my way home from there. I was out of water and soaking wet with sweat when I finally got back. I really miss the pool from Costa Rica, but I made do with a shower, a cold alcoholic beverage, and some fans. Not today, cancer!

More street art in Playa
Here is more street art from right by the apartment.

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