Getting Your Skin Checked by a Dermatologist
As the body’s first line of defense, your skin takes a beating. Getting it checked by a dermatologist helps protect your health.
Montgomery Dermatologists can also help with cosmetic concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. They can recommend treatments or procedures that will improve these issues.
Often, what appears to be a simple rash can be a warning sign of an underlying disease. Dermatologists can perform biopsies to be sure.
Your skin is the body’s largest organ and has many important functions. It protects the other internal organs from heat, cold and germs; it warms up the body and cools it down; it helps to absorb vital nutrients and moisture; and it tells us a lot about our overall health. Dermatologists are experts at diagnosing and treating conditions involving the skin, hair and nails.
Depending on your condition, your dermatologist may also perform surgical procedures such as skin biopsies and mole removal. They can also use various cryotherapy treatments (controlled exposure to extreme cold temperatures) to remove warts, skin tags and other growths. They can also inject dermal fillers or Botox to treat wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin.
Skin disorders can have a profound impact on your quality of life, and they’re often a sign of underlying health problems that can affect other parts of your body such as the heart and liver. Your dermatologist can spot these signs and refer you to a specialist when necessary.
Dermatologists can also help with cosmetic issues such as psoriasis, eczema and scarring from burns or surgery. Taking care of your appearance can have a huge impact on your self-esteem and confidence, and your dermatologist will be happy to offer suggestions on how to look your best.
While GPs can manage many common skin issues, they will often refer people with more complex concerns to a skin specialist. This can be because they’re not trained to diagnose these conditions, or because the diagnosis and treatment of some conditions is more complex than others.
A dermatologist will take a careful history of your symptoms, including when they first began and how long they’ve lasted. It’s a good idea to keep a symptom diary and bring it with you to your appointment so that you can record the dates of any events, describe how they’ve affected your daily activities and mention any other symptoms or triggers that may be relevant. You should also wear loose clothing and not apply nail polish or makeup before your appointment as this will make it easier for the dermatologist to examine you.
They Have Access to Treatments That May Not Be Available Over-the-Counter
Dermatologists have extensive training in a wide variety of treatments for both medical conditions and cosmetic concerns. They can treat a child’s birthmark that threatens their eyesight, remove a mother’s deadly melanoma at its earliest and most treatable stage, or offer relief from a child’s severe itching caused by eczema. A dermatologist can also help you find the best skin care products and procedures to maintain your health and boost your confidence.
A recent survey by the Society for Dermatologic Surgery showed that many patients are not seeing a dermatologist, instead opting to self-treat using a variety of over-the-counter medications and home remedies. Unfortunately, this can often cause a condition to worsen and lead to additional costs for the patient. While there are a number of factors that contribute to access to dermatological care, these barriers include limited insurance coverage and the perception that some cosmetic treatments are not medically necessary.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to ensure more people have access to the care they need. Providers should be encouraged to develop innovative methods of diagnosis and treatment that are less reliant on physical examination, such as virtual visits, where patients can send photos to their dermatologist for evaluation. This would not only allow more patients to see a dermatologist, but also reduce the wait time for an appointment.
The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Independence Blue Cross recently found that when patients’ primary care doctors were able to use telemedicine software to photograph areas of concern, the average response time for a consultation dropped from almost 84 days to under five hours. This type of technology should be expanded to other specialties, including dermatology, so that more patients can benefit from it.
When you do go to see a dermatologist, be sure to bring copies of any lab work that has been done by your other healthcare providers. Also, make a list of all the medications and over-the-counter treatments that you currently use, including vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, soaps, moisturizers and any other topical products. Also, it can be helpful to bring a friend or family member with you to take notes and be an extra set of ears.
They Can Help Prevent Age-Related Skin Issues
As the body’s first line of defense, your skin takes a lot of hits throughout life. It protects your body from germs; repels water; and covers blood vessels, nerves, and organs.
Unfortunately, your skin can be damaged by environmental factors and your genes. These damages can lead to age-related skin problems. Luckily, dermatologists can help prevent these problems or treat them once they occur.
For example, in your 30s and 40s, you may start to experience hormonal acne (which can also happen due to a health condition). You can control this by continuing to use sunscreen and using anti-acne treatments. Other skin issues that may occur as you get older include rosacea, which causes redness and pus-filled bumps; and herpes zoster, which is a viral infection that can cause a painful rash.
Dermatologists can provide you with a variety of cosmetic procedures that can help prevent or reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, and other signs of aging. For example, they can perform a chemical peel, which removes layers of skin to make it appear smoother and healthier. They can also inject Botox or other fillers to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Additionally, dermatologists can treat nail and hair issues. For example, they can help you with fungus that affects the nails or hair and treats other conditions that cause damage to the skin around your fingernails and toenails. They can also prescribe treatment for vitiligo, which is when your skin loses melanin, the pigment that gives it its color.
Dermatologists can also help you prevent age-related skin problems by thoroughly examining your skin for any suspicious moles or other growths that could be early signs of cancer. They can also explain how to best protect your skin against the sun, especially as you get older. In addition, they can help you with lifestyle changes that can improve your overall health and quality of life, such as smoking cessation, healthy eating habits, and exercise.
They Have a Personal Connection
Dermatologists connect with their patients on a personal level. They have a unique understanding of how skin conditions affect an individual’s everyday life. They are able to help patients feel comfortable in their own skin and can provide treatment options that improve quality of life.
Skin issues like rosacea, psoriasis, and acne can be difficult to live with. They can have a negative impact on self-image and lead to loss of productivity. In addition, they can also be a warning sign for underlying health issues. For example, a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans can be a precursor to prediabetes and should be treated before it progresses to full-blown diabetes.
As a result, dermatologists are often advocates for their patients. They may work to remove barriers that hinder patient access to care. For example, they might work to eliminate step edits in Medicare billing and protect the integrity of patient records. Their efforts to make life easier for their patients will benefit them in the long run.
A dermatologist’s skill set extends beyond the skin and includes a deep knowledge of medical procedures and treatments. They must be able to assess a patient’s health and determine the best course of action to take. This is especially important for the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers. A dermatologist will be able to recommend treatment and determine if the cancer has spread. If it has, they will be able to refer the patient to a Mohs surgeon, who performs a highly specialized type of surgery that is used solely for treating skin cancer.
In addition, a dermatologist must have excellent people skills to connect with their patients. They must be able to listen carefully to their patients’ concerns and answer their questions in a way that is easy for them to understand. They must be empathetic, respectful, and culturally competent. Dermatologists have the unique opportunity to positively impact their patients’ lives on a daily basis and are truly dedicated to the well-being of their community.