Maybe you’re doing “all the things”, but something still doesn’t seem quite right. Possibly those pesky pimples have really overstayed their welcome, or perhaps you are just seeking some backup and reassurance that all is going according to plan. Well, you’re in luck! Whatever your skincare queries, there is no reason to go it alone - especially when professional assistance is often just a quick physician’s visit away. Dermatologists can offer heaps of help when setting out on a skincare journey. But what time is the right time to send out the S.O.S.?
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: It’s true that dermatologists can guide you through a universe-worth of skin issues, but what most people don’t realize is that they’re not just for damage control. To proactively protect the health of your skin, elicit the help of a dermatologist today.
Good to Know: It’s great to plan for yearly dermatological checkups. But there are a few reasons you won’t want to wait until your annual. Keep reading to learn the nonnegotiable cues for an ASAP visit.
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What Is a Dermatologist
When it comes to protecting your skin, a trusted dermatologist can be as vital as SPF! Specializing in the care and maintenance of all things skin, hair, and nails, a dermatologist is a physician who has undergone extensive training to skillfully identify and treat thousands of conditions and support your skin-related goals. Depending on your needs, dermatologists may provide medical, cosmetic, therapeutic, and sometimes surgical solutions to help you achieve the skin of your dreams!
What to Expect
If you are reading this and have not yet visited a dermatologist, hop to it- doing so is key to ensure the life and longevity of your skin. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and the first line of defense against literally everything, so it needs to be checked closely. Consequently, a dermatologist will give an up-close full-body examination. This could feel daunting but know there are ways to make the experience more comfortable. Professional physicians should put you at ease and encourage you to remain covered-up while they examine only small areas of skin at a time. And many offices will even allow new patients to bring a support person or provide one for you. So, if your upcoming visit brings on feelings of nervousness and vulnerability, be upfront about that so you and your clinician can have solutions in place to assuage your valid anxieties.
But whatever you do, don’t blow off your visit. That’s a no-no.
“Ok, fine.” you say. But how do you know when it’s time to go?
When to See a Dermatologist
To proactively protect your skin, any time is the right time to elicit the help of a trusted dermatologist. Further, everyone’s skin is different, so while acne or hormonal breakouts may have some frequenting their dermatologists as early as their preteen years, others may not have reason to pop on in until much later - and that’s totally cool. But while there may not be a magic age to start consulting with a dermatologist, most pros agree that if you haven’t yet done so by your mid-twenties, you might want to consider it. By this time, people likely have learned what their skin likes and what it doesn’t. They know it well enough to be able to speak on its nuances and any potential changes. And most importantly, by one’s twenties, they have probably been on the receiving end of enough UV rays to start being mindful of their effects, while it’s still early enough to successfully get ahead of age defense.
Similar to routine primary care checkups, it is good practice to check in with your dermatologist regularly; once a year is usually standard, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. These annual visits will cover all the basics and should include a full body exam and a comprehensive rundown of all your skin’s non-urgent trials and tribulations to best ensure healthy, beautiful skin in the year ahead. But while it is important to keep up with your routine visits, there may be times that you shouldn’t wait for your annual check-up. If you notice any of the following, pay your derm a visit, ASAP…
Top 5 Reasons to Visit a Dermatologist
1. A Changing or Irregular Mole
A mole, also known as a nevus or beauty mark, is a common, often semi-permanent growth on the skin. There are many different kinds of moles and, while most are harmless, some can be an indication of more nefarious skin activity, like cancer. So, it is important to pay close attention to your moles, monitor them for any changes in appearance, and know your ABCDEs!
- Asymmetry: Moles should be equal on all sides, with any “half” mirroring the other.
- Border: Borders of moles should be smooth; never jagged, blurred, or “lacey”.
- Color: Moles should be consistent in color and either tan, brown, or black. If you notice a mole that is a blend of colors, changing color, darker than all your other moles, or showing hues of white, blue, or red, get it checked.
- Diameter: Harmless moles are usually no larger than ¼ inch in diameter or about the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolving: Any mole that is actively changing, no matter its shape, size, or color, warrants a trip to the dermatologist. Don’t wait. Just go.
2. Acne or Persistent Breakouts
Believe it or not, acne is a medical condition and deserves the attention of a professional. Plus, there are tons of amazing treatment options available, many of which are only accessible through your doctor. If you are experiencing relentless breakouts, or painful cystic blemishes, don’t try to manage it yourself, as waiting could lead to things like infection and scarring.
3. Hives, Rashes, or Persistent Irritation
A chronic, clinical skin condition could be the cause of all that itchy, scratchy, redness you just can’t seem to kick. It may even be something like genetics or allergies, which can really only be better understood through medical testing.
4. Nail Woes
While our nails often feel like nothing more than accessories, any associated conditions, like fungal infections or ingrowns, shouldn’t be ignored. Without proper treatment, they can become dangerous. Further, ailing nails can signal larger problems like potential liver, heart, or endocrine issues.
5. Hair Loss
Wash day getting you down with palmsful of lifeless strands foregoing their follicles? Your dermatologist can offer you a host of therapies to minimize the impact of hair loss and prevent it from progressing into a major bummer.
Make Your Visit Work for You
So, yes. Definitely. 100%. Visit the dermatologist! And now’s not a moment too soon. But be sure to make the most of your time there by loving and learning your skin in advance. Care for it with some high-quality products and always note any changes in its appearance. Keep a text doc in your phone so you can easily share important information with your doctor. And don’t skip your visit! Some scheduled time with a trusted pro just might be the missing ingredient in your holistically-healthy skin recipe.