Dermatologists take care of skin, hair and nails. They detect and treat diseases and repair cosmetic defects of the skin. When should people see a dermatologist instead of treating a condition themselves or seeking help from their family physician? Below are some conditions they generally require a dermatologist's expertise:
A Suspicious Mole
Melanoma or skin cancer is a serious condition that can be fatal. Fortunately, if it is caught early, melanoma can be successfully treated. Suspicious moles are often the first visible sign of melanoma. But what constitutes a suspicious mole? Any mole that is larger than a pencil eraser, has a rough surface, is multicolored, or has an irregular, ill-defined border should be examined by a dermatologist. Also, a mole that changes in any way qualifies as suspicious. Anyone who detects a suspicious mole should see a dermatologist immediately.
Skin Cancer Risks
Even people who do not have a suspicious mole may need to visit a dermatologist regularly. Anyone who has previously had skin cancer, detects new lumps, grows any new moles, or has new skin discoloration needs to be examined by a dermatologist periodically. People who have close relatives who have had melanoma have an elevated risk for skin cancer and also need to make regular visits to their dermatologist. Another group of people at risk for melanoma, even if they have none of the risk factors discussed above, are people with fair skin. Fair-skinned people need to see their dermatologist annually, too.
People and adolescents with severe acne should see their dermatologist for assessment and treatment. For some people, acne is an annoying but mild condition that can be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, for many people, acne is a serious medical condition that requires more advanced therapies available only from a dermatologist. Failing to seek treatment for serious acne can result in facial scarring or infection. Fortunately, a dermatologist can develop an effective therapeutic regimen tailored to each individual's acne.
People with a skin disease need to visit their dermatologist for assistance. Conditions like rashes, hives, cold sores, athlete's foot, jock itch, tinea versicolor, eczema and psoriasis often need professional medical treatment. Dermatologists can also remove warts, including painful plantar warts. Some people consult their family doctor regarding skin diseases and wart removal. General practitioners can certainly help with some of these conditions, but the best possible treatments are provided by dermatologists. For example, people who have their family doctor remove a wart or skin growth frequently find that the wart or growth comes back. Dermatologists have the expertise and the experience to treat skin diseases and remove warts effectively.
Anyone who is concerned about the effects of aging on their appearance should make an appointment to see their dermatologist. Dermatologists can often alleviate many signs of aging such as baggy skin, wrinkles, uneven skin color, and blemishes.
Dermatologists can help improve a person's appearance by correcting natural defects and skin damage from accidents or injuries. People with scars, uneven skin pigmentation, stretch marks, nail problems, capillary damage, birthmarks, skin growths, and undesired tattoos should visit their dermatologist. With laser technology, advanced surgical techniques, and other therapies, dermatologists can often improve or even eliminate these problems.
Anyone, male or female, experiencing hair loss should see a dermatologist as soon as possible. Dermatologists have the most advanced treatments for dealing with baldness. A dermatologist can also determine if the hair loss is a sign another disease.