When you have a million things you need to get done, scheduling an appointment to see a dermatologist may be the last thing on your mind. But not every skin problem can be solved with an over-the-counter cream, no matter what the advertisements say. In fact, with so many contradictory skin-care guidelines provided either by manufacturers or unqualified beauty gurus, it’s never been more important to first check with a dermatologist.
And did we mention the higher levels of pollution, radiation, and our unhealthy diets?
Dermatologists treat over 3,000 different medical conditions affecting the skin, hair, nails and mucous membrane. Even if the condition is not life-threatening, when left untreated, it can have a serious impact on the patient’s overall quality of life and can give rise to psychologic distress in the form of poor self-image, anxiety, and depression. For example, people with acne are 60% more likely to develop major depressive disorder.
Your Acne Isn’t Going Away
It can be difficult to tell if your acne is serious enough that you need to see a doctor. You’re probably thinking it’s just acne, why bother? And you’re probably already using a few products. But why not ask if they’re the right ones? Sometimes, people get pimples from using the wrong drugstore solutions.
Mild to moderate acne can indeed be treated with drugstore cosmetics containing benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid and should go away after about 6 weeks, but if you feel you’ve been going through a host of different creams, gels, and cleansers and they often make it worse, it would be better to just go see a doctor.
According to the experts at Dermetics, acne can continue into adulthood because of stress, monthly hormonal changes, the use of certain medications or oil-based products. It can be genetic but it’s not caused by poor hygiene, nor by eating greasy food or chocolate. Left untreated, the breakouts can worsen and lead to permanent scarring.
A dermatologist can prescribe powerful topical retinoids that tame extra-oily skin and unclog pores. They can also put you on antibiotics, birth control or isotretinoin in cases of deeper acne spots or hormonal breakouts.
Acne can also be indicative of other medical conditions that need to be investigated and treated. Digestive issues, food allergies, and high blood pressure can manifest through the appearance of pimples on your T-zone, cheeks or chin.
You’ll Get Professional Advice on Whether You Skin Care Products Are the Right Fit
Dermatologists can also help you figure out if your skincare routine is the right choice for you or you’re actually doing more harm than good.
Common misconceptions they hear from patients include the notion that having a base tan can protect your skin from sunburns when in fact any exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage the cellular network, causing the cells to mutate and triggering skin cancer.
When it comes to skincare products, they can check if what you use contains any fragrances, preservatives or other additives that are making you have an allergic reaction. If using a product makes your skin sting and burn then you’re probably allergic to it. Sometimes your skin is simply too sensitive to the ingredients.
Excessive dryness, flaking, and peeling can be symptomatic of skin disease but it can also stem from inappropriate use of acne cosmetics. Chronic inflammation will stress the skin and accelerate the aging process.
If your skin is getting oilier than usual it can be a sign that whatever you’re using is stripping it of its natural oils and it’s trying to overcompensate by producing even more oil. In that case, you might need to change it for something containing hyaluronic acid to keep the moisture locked in.
Another myth that patients bring up during appointments is that toothpaste will make a zit go away faster. The hydrogen peroxide found in some brands does indeed act as an antiseptic, but other ingredients will actually irritate the skin and cause further breakouts.
Your Dermatologist Can Screen for Potentially Serious Medical Conditions
An annual visit to the dermatologist is also important to check for changes to the skin, especially if you’re part of the high-risk group of patients. If there are any differences in the shape, size, and color of your moles, your doctor will have to remove some of the tissue and check for cancerous cells.
Also, sometimes a rash isn’t just a rash, it can be eczema or psoriasis in which case, you’ll be given a treatment that’s suitable for your particular needs.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that makes cells grow too quickly and pile up causing scaly patches on your scalp, lower back, knees, and elbows.
If you’re losing more hair than normal or you’re noticing bald spots, it can mean you’re lacking essential nutrients caused either by your body’s inability to assimilate them or it’s a result of crash dieting. Hair loss can also stem from hormonal changes that will have to be properly tested.
Rosacea is another dermatologic condition that often goes ignored. Red and flushed skin, broken blood vessels, red bumps, and inflammation are common symptoms. A flareup can come from exposure to sun, wind, cold, drinking either hot beverages or alcohol, eating spicy food and even stress.
That’s a long list, we know.
Luckily there are medications available to help you and IPL treatment (intense pulsed light) can eliminate the visibly broken blood vessels.
Patches of discolored skin can simply be a birthmark but can also signal pigmentation disorders, rashes, infections or cancer.
By skin infections we’re referring to fungal skin infections like tinea versicolor- skin becomes either lighter or darker starting with small areas that can grow and merge, mostly on the trunk, upper arms, and neck, ringworm – ring-shaped patches that can be dry, scaly and itchy, can appear on most areas including scalp, groin and nails, and candidiasis of the skin- red, itchy patches mostly in skin folds.