Why You Should See A Dermatologist
It is no secret that skincare has grown in popularity with the rise of social media and, more specifically, with the rise of TikTok. There are several TikTok accounts and influencers that have grown a cult following and a respect from the public for their depth of knowledge on skin and which products are worth the money, but should you still see a dermatologist?
- Dermatologists are medical professionals that specialize in the skin, hair, and nails.
- Most mild cases of acne don’t require a dermatologist’s help. But for those with persistent or painful acne, derms have access to medications and treatments that work quicker and more effectively than over the counter products
- Derms also focus on several other conditions than just acne like skin cancer, eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff
What do dermatologists do?
To begin, we really need to understand just exactly what a dermatologist is and what they do. A dermatologist is a medical professional or a doctor that specializes in the study of skin, hair and nails. They have years of training and practice under their belts.
To begin, derms must complete four years of regular undergraduate education, then another four years of medical school, and another three years minimum in residency before being able to practice on their own. Not to mention some dermatologists also do a fellowship program after residency which can add another three to four years. This means that all dermatologists do a total of at least eleven years of school and training, so they are extremely qualified and trained in a variety of skin, hair and nail conditions.
Why and when should I see a dermatologist?
A common question people ask is: when do I need to see a dermatologist? Well, the truth is there is no uniform answer to this question, it heavily depends on the individual and their situation. A big concern people see derms for is acne. Acne sucks, there’s not denying it, and almost everyone has to deal with acne at least once in their life.
Oftentimes, acne for most people is what derms consider “mild” meaning their acne is not severe or extremely persistent despite treatment. In these mild cases, over the counter products and consistency with a skincare routine is pretty much all that is needed to keep breakouts at bay. But for some people, their acne is a bit more stubborn.
If your acne is severe, meaning you have multiple breakouts at once, have tried several over the counter treatments, or your acne is significantly painful, it is in your best interest to visit your dermatologist. Although the skincare industry has blossomed over the years and consumers have access to more than what they once did, there are still several ingredients, products and treatments that only board-certified dermatologists have access to.
Skin cancer and other skin, hair, and nail conditions
While we may automatically think of acne when we hear the word dermatology, derms actually cover a lot more than just pimples. One of their biggest concerns is skin cancer, including melanoma which if not caught and treated early on, can be deadly. If you are someone that rarely uses sunscreen, regularly uses tanning beds, or has spots that look like they could be cancerous, see a dermatologist immediately.
Although one in five Americans have had some sort of skin cancer at one point, it is still so important that you see a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible to remove and treat current cancerous spots and to prevent the addition of new ones. Skin cancer is one of those things that although it is common, is not treatable with over the counter methods.
Eczema, psoriasis and more
Derms also deal with a variety of other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, which are two of the most common skin conditions worldwide. There are several products and even some over the counter medications that are advertised to treat eczema and psoriasis. But, most people do not find much luck or relief from these conditions without seeing their dermatologist. Prescription lotions and topical antibiotics oftentimes can help ease the symptoms of these uncomfortable skin conditions, and these can only be acquired after a visit with your dermatologist.
Those with severe eczema or psoriasis who have not responded well to OTC treatments or topical creams and lotions, can also talk to their dermatologist about laser treatments. Certain laser therapy can help relieve patients of the dry, itchy, and red skin caused by these conditions.
In the past decade, there have been several at-home laser kits sold over the counter that advertise to help with these skin conditions. But the truth is, only certain lasers have the power and ability to make an impact, and these are only available to licensed dermatologists and medical professionals. So, it is in your best interest to save your money on the at-home kits, and talk to your derm about in-office treatments instead; you will see quicker and more significant results.
There are other concerns that are typically seen as not serious, but if they are persistent and resistant to OTC products, you may want to schedule a visit to your dermatologist. For example, warts are a very common condition and oftentimes the over the counter freeze-away works just fine. But in specific cases, warts can be stubborn or continuously reappear. If this is something you struggle with, see your dermatologist to have it cut out or frozen off.
If you are one of the 50% of people with dandruff, see a dermatologist for some prescription anti-dandruff shampoo. Oftentimes people think they’re struggling with dandruff but realize it’s a fungal infection after talking to their derm. From there they are prescribed anti-fungal shampoo or an oral medication. This is a perfect example of when OTC treatments don’t work, see your dermatologist.
How much does an appointment cost?
Dermatologists sound pretty great, right? But, this leads people to question if it’s too good to be true; how much money would you be spending on a visit with your derm to be able to access these treatments and prescriptions? For those without insurance or insurance that does not cover dermatology visits, an average cost of a first-time visit ranges anywhere from $150 to $250. If your insurance does cover dermatology wellness visits, then your co-pay will usually be between $20 to $40. For those concerned about the cost, talk to your dermatologist one-on-one to discuss ways around this.
At the end of the day, medical professionals want to help any and all patients, and almost all derms will work with the patient to find a solution. Because certain skin, hair and nail conditions have easy fixes, they may suggest seeing your primary care physician first to receive the prescriptions you need without breaking the bank.
How often should you see a dermatologist?
Once you’ve had your derm appointment, or you’ve seen your primary care physician about your concerns, you may be wondering whether you need to return or not. Again, it’s specific to each individual and each specific case. If you have been prescribed medication or received a professional treatment and have not seen results, make a follow-up appointment to discuss alternative methods. If you’ve had any sort of reaction to a prescription, stop using it immediately and contact your doctor.
Other than that, it’s recommended that you visit your derm at least once a year so they can screen you for skin cancers. As mentioned above, skin cancer is extremely common and oftentimes overlooked, but if left untreated these sunspots can be extremely harmful to your health. So, it is in your best interest to wear your sunscreen and see your derm at least once every year.
Written by Jordan Hammaren