Dermatology may seem like a non-urgent field of medicine. However, with more than 3 million Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each year, it is not an appointment that should be pushed aside. Making a dermatology appointment as soon as you notice a change in your skin could be potentially life-saving. What may at first seem like a harmless mole, blemish or rash could possibly develop into something much worse.
Watch for these signs that it’s time to see a dermatologist.
You notice a mole or patch of skin that has changed
Whether it is a mole you have had your entire life or one that just appeared, it is important to see a dermatologist if you notice any changes in moles or spots. Any mole or spot on your skin that has changed in color, shape or size should be evaluated. These changes could be natural skin aging or something more serious, like skin cancer, that requires treatment or removal. Always seek medical attention as soon as possible in these cases, as early detection is crucial to successful treatment.
You are experiencing stubborn acne that won’t go away
Acne is the most commonly diagnosed skin condition in America and can affect anyone. If you have tried over-the-counter treatments for months and your acne is still bothering you, make a dermatologist appointment. A dermatologist can prescribe effective medications to treat acne.
There are also many skin conditions that resemble acne but won’t respond to acne treatments. You may be suffering from a condition similar in appearance to acne such as rosacea.
Your skin is itchy, dry and irritated
Many people think of dry skin as a harmless condition that you can treat at home. If your skin is persistently itchy, red, dry and flaky and isn’t responding to over-the-counter creams and lotions, it could be a chronic skin condition known as eczema. A dermatologist can diagnose and provide insight on how to manage this condition. Possible treatments for eczema include topical ointments, light therapy and oral medications. Your dermatologist can also help you determine possible eczema triggers and help you avoid flare-ups.
You notice scaly, rough patches on your skin
Scaly, rough, sometimes itchy and red patches on your skin could be a condition known as psoriasis – most commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees and lower back. This condition can occur when skin cells grow too quickly, leaving the body unable to shed the cells fast enough. This can result in thick, scaly patches on the skin. Psoriasis can be diagnosed by a dermatologist who can then prescribe treatments to ease discomfort.
You have hives or an allergic reaction that won’t go away
If you are experiencing an allergic reaction to an unknown allergen that lasts longer than a few days, you should see a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can perform an exam to rule out other skin conditions. Dermal patch testing can also be done to identify specific environmental allergens and help eliminate these substances or offer alternatives.
You have noticeable scars
Acne, skin blemishes, burns, cuts and scrapes can cause scarring, ranging in color from white to red to purple. Scars can be raised, thick or deep. If your scarring is severe or bothers you, it is time to see a dermatologist. A skin specialist can offer procedures and treatment to lighten scars, build up depressed scars, and resect raised scars.
You are experiencing hair loss
Although it is natural to lose hairs daily, excessive shedding (loss of more than 50 to 100 hairs per day), bald spots and a widening part could be cause for concern and should be evaluated by a medical professional. Hair loss can be hereditary but also may result from a lack of nutrients in your diet. Hair loss is also common after pregnancy due to hormone fluctuations. A dermatologist can determine the cause of the hair loss and offer a solution or treatment.
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, make an appointment with one of our medical dermatologists. Columbia Skin Clinic is a trusted practice, voted Best Dermatology Practice in Columbia three years in a row. Contact one of our convenient locations – in Columbia, Irmo and Camden.