Should I See a Dermatologist for My Skin Problems?

Taking the best possible care of your skin can be challenging. 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. But, there will be times when your skin needs medical attention only a dermatologist can provide. Keep reading for a list of skin concerns that always require a visit to your dermatologist.

Skin Concerns that Require a Dermatologist Visit

  • Cystic acne or stubborn acne that won’t go away with over-the-counter 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.
  • Moles on your skin that change or new moles appearing on skin. 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.
  • Itching and rashes 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scar treatment. 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.
  • Mask-like brown facial discolorations (melasma) 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!
  • Stretch marks. 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, laser treatments from a dermatologist can result in some improvement, assuming you 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