When Should You See a Dermatologist?

If you have persistent cystic acne, new moles, deep scarring, or other chronic skin conditions, your skin needs medical attention that only a dermatologist can provide. Taking the best possible daily care of your skin can be challenging, but thankfully, issues like acne, wrinkles, oily skin, dry skin, or bumpy skin are relatively easy to take care of on your own with over-the-counter products.

8 Reasons You Need to See a Dermatologist

1. You have cystic acne or stubborn acne that hasn’t gone away using over-the-counter acne products.

If your acne hasn’t improved after 2 to 3 months of daily use of acne-fighting skincare, then seeing a dermatologist is a must. If the majority of your breakouts are cystic, don’t wait to see a dermatologist: This type of acne always needs medical help.

2. You’ve noticed new moles on your skin or moles that have recently changed in size, shape, or color.

If you see a mole or other unusual discoloration on your skin start changing in shape or size, darkening, or scabbing then bleeding, then it’s crucial to see a dermatologist for a skin exam. This is especially important if you have a family history of skin cancer, have fair to light skin, freckle easily, or have suffered many sunburns in your life.

3. Your skin is itchy or you have a rash from eczema.

Eczema is a common disorder that’s often accompanied by uncomfortable or uncontrollable itching and red, flaking skin. Thankfully, a dermatologist has numerous topical and systemic treatments that can ease symptoms of eczema. And of course, treating dry skin delicately with gentle, fragrance-free skincare helps to improve its comfort.

4. You have persistent redness or flushing from rosacea.

Rosacea is a chronic facial skin disorder whose symptoms almost always require prescription products and in-office treatments. Gentle skincare and daily sun protection play supporting roles, but cannot address the underlying cause of rosacea. However, gentle skincare helps visibly reduce facial redness.

5. You’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis.

Psoriasis always needs the help and careful monitoring of a dermatologist due to the nature of this disorder and the various medications often prescribed to control its symptoms. Getting psoriasis under control with regular skincare isn’t possible, but using gentle, fragrance-free products (especially a leave-on BHA exfoliant) will help keep skin from looking worse.

6. Your scars are raised, thick, and deep.

If a scar is raised, thick, or too deep, skincare products won’t help. On the other hand, a dermatologist can offer procedures to improve the color of scars, raise depressed scars, or flatten raised scars. A dermatologist can also advise on the best over-the-counter scar creams to complement in-office treatments.

7. You have melasma, or mask-like brown facial discolorations.

This kind of discoloration typically responds poorly to over-the-counter skin-lightening products, but a dermatologist can use various laser, high-strength peels, and prescription topical products to dramatically fade melasma. Don’t forget to be diligent about broad-spectrum sunscreen use, every day, no exceptions!

8. You have stretch marks (like almost everyone else on the planet.)

It’s estimated that over 80 percent of people have stretch marks, and despite claims to the contrary, there aren’t any products that can eliminate these tread-like marks: They’re literally broken bands of elastin beneath skin. On the other hand, if you’re seeking for some visible improvement, laser treatments from a dermatologist can provide results; just keep your expectations realistic.

References for this information:
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2016, pages 211-222
Archives of Dermatological Research, June 2015, pages 461-477
Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, August 2015, pages 239-249
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, April 2015, pages 159-177; and April 2011, pages 41-53
Acta-dermato Venereologica, February 2015, pages 133-139
Indian Dermatology Online Journal, October 2014, pages 426-435
Clinics in Dermatology, January-February 2009, pages 103-115