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Should You See a Dermatologist?

Certain skin conditions can be treated safely at home, while others require a specialist's care. Learn how to tell the difference.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH

Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

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A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the health of your skin, hair, and nails, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). While there are a number of reasons you may want to see a dermatologist, the reality is, not every skin problem can be solved, advises Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a dermatologist at the University of Miami.

"Available treatments for conditions like stretch marks, large pores, and cellulite can make them slightly better, but do not eliminate them completely," says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd. So it’s important to have realistic expectations.

6 Reasons to Schedule a Dermatologist Visit

A dermatologist plays an important role in educating, screening, and treating various skin issues, including:

1. Acne. If you have acne that is not responding to an over-the-counter skin treatment, you may want to schedule a visit with a dermatologist, advises Woolery-Lloyd. A dermatologist can determine which kind of prescription treatment would be most effective for your acne and lifestyle, according to the AAD.

2. Skin cancer. A dermatologist can screen you for skin cancer. Talk to your family doctor or dermatologist about how often you need to be checked for changes to your skin. An annual body check is especially important if you are in a high-risk group — if you are fair-haired or light-eyed, or you have a history of blistering sunburns, according to the National Institutes of Health.

"As dermatologists, we know that the early detection of skin cancer by routine skin examinations is crucial for successful treatment," says Robert S. Kirsner, MD, PhD, chair of the department of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

In addition to regular screenings, you should also see a dermatologist if you notice a change in the shape, size, or coloring of any of your moles. A dermatologist can remove some or all of the suspicious tissue and examine it under a microscope to check for cancerous cells. Dermatologists also see people who are being treated for other cancers and experiencing skin side effects due to their medication.

3. Eczema. This chronic skin condition is characterized by irritation, itchiness, and flaky patches of skin, according to the AAD. A dermatologist can help find ways to manage your eczema and prescribe any necessary treatment.

4. Skin damage. If you are concerned about minimizing skin damage or caring for aging skin, a dermatologist can suggest products or lifestyle changes that reduce your exposure to damaging elements.

5. Specialized care of skin, hair, and nails. You can talk to a dermatologist regarding any concerns you have about almost any condition that affects your appearance, according to the AAD. For example, skin conditions ranging from discolorations, to warts, to stretch marks, to psoriasis can all be treated by a dermatologist.

6. Scar treatment. Dermatologists can offer skin treatments to improve the look of almost any scar, including acne scars and keloid (raised) scars, according to the AAD. A dermatologist may refer you to a plastic surgeon for enhanced treatment of more serious scars, such as those due to burns.

Preparing for Your Dermatologist Visit

Before seeing a dermatologist, it helps to prepare for your visit by:

  • Checking with your health insurance plan to find out what services are covered and whether you need a referral from your primary care provider before making an appointment.
  • Having all necessary identification and medical cards ready to bring with you.
  • Writing down a list of the medications and supplements you’re currently taking.
  • Bringing a list of questions and concerns to discuss.
  • Skipping heavy cosmetics if you want the dermatologist to examine the skin on your face.

It’s also important to remember that while some procedures, such as a full-body skin exam, can be performed at your initial appointment; others may require a follow-up appointment.

Video: Cosmetic Dermatology

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Date: 06.12.2018, 17:13 / Views: 63255