Dermatologists are medical doctors who specialize in treating skin, hair and nails. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), at any given time, one out of every three people in the United States suffers from a skin disease. Many skin conditions cannot be cured or relieved with over-the-counter treatments. For skin conditions that are out of your control or you’re not sure what to do about, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. Depending on your specific skin problem, you may even wish to search for a dermatologist online and find a doctor that specializes in specific areas, such as cosmetic procedures, skin cancer or skin of color.
Dermatologists are way more than “pimple popping M.D.s”, which according to the popular ‘90s sitcom Seinfeld is all the profession is good for. They save and improve lives every day by helping people get control of their problematic skin, hair and nail conditions.
Seinfeld Clip “Pimple Popping M.D.s”
Still not sure if you should seek medical attention? Here are some of the top reasons to see a dermatologist.
Acne. For acne that is not responding to an over-the-counter skin treatment, a dermatologist can determine which kind of prescription skin treatment would be most effective for your acne and lifestyle.
Eczema. Many people suffer from eczema, a chronic condition characterized by irritation, itchiness, and flaky patches of skin. A dermatologist can help find ways to manage this condition and, if necessary, will prescribe medications.
Skin cancer. An annual full body skin exam performed by a dermatologist is especially important if you are in a high-risk group (fair skin, had bad sunburns, especially blistering sunburns, skin that burns or freckles rather than tans, 50-plus moles or atypical moles). In addition to regular screenings, you should 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, then examine it under a microscope for cancerous cells. Skin cancer does not discriminate. All ages and races are susceptible to skin cancer.
Wrinkles, dark spots and scars. 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. They can also perform cosmetic procedures to reduce visible signs of aging and scars.
For almost any condition that affects your appearance (skin, hair and nails) you can seek a dermatologist for advice and treatment. For a complete list of the conditions dermatologists treat, please visit the AAD website.
Take care of your skin, your largest organ. Remember, everyone needs sun protection, but those with skin conditions may be even more sensitive to the sun. When talking with your dermatologist, ask him or her about photosensitivity (a negative skin reaction to UV rays) and get sun protection recommendations. Using sun protective clothing, wide-brim hats, sunglasses and broad-spectrum sunscreen regularly can reduce visible signs of aging and help prevent skin cancer.
Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.