Need of a dermatologist ?

How to Communicate With Your Provider

When selecting a dermatologist, it is important to find one with whom you can communicate openly and comfortably. This includes asking them about their experience, training, and credentials.

Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What experience have you had with this type of skin problem?
  • How many patients have you treated for this?
  • How urgent is it that I am treated now?
  • How long does the treatment last?
  • What are the results?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Are the results lasting, or is there a chance of recurrence?
  • What does the treatment cost?
  • Will my insurance cover the treatment, lab work, and other expenses?
  • What happens if the treatment fails?
  • What happens if I don’t get treated?
  • Are there any alternative treatments I can consider?

If you are unsure of the response or simply need confirmation that a recommended treatment is the best course of action, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion. It is not only your right to do so but ensures that you have all the information needed to make an informed choice.

Need of a dermatologist ?

Why See a Board-Certified Dermatologist?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Associations (AAD), there are clear advantages to working with a board-certified dermatologist:

  • They have completed medical school plus three to four years of advanced training—a total of 12,000 to 16,000 hours—studying diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.
  • They have passed rigorous exams in dermatology.
  • They have made a commitment to keeping up with the latest advances in dermatology.
  • They understand the interactions between the skin and the rest of the body.

This not only helps them reach a fast and accurate diagnosis, but provide effective treatment as soon as possible, which can reduce the risk of issues related to incorrect or delayed treatment (e.g., scarring, hair loss, or nail damage).

The letters “FAAD” in a doctor’s list of credentials means that they are board certified and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Need of a dermatologist ?

When Seeing a Dermatologist Is Best

As a general rule, a dermatologist should be sought if a skin condition is beyond the scope of expertise of a non-dermatology practitioner.

Dermatologists are trained to diagnose and treat over 3,000 different conditions affecting the skin, hair, or nails. You can see a dermatologist for any issue affecting these parts of the body, whether it is minor or significant.

Among some of the more common reasons why you should see a dermatologist:

  • Your acne is not responding to over-the-counter or prescribed treatments.
  • You have a skin condition, such as severe acne, that causes scarring.
  • You have sun-damaged skin that may get worse.
  • You have persistently rough, scaly patches of skin.
  • A mole or freckle is changing its shape or size.
  • A fungal nail infection persists despite treatment.
  • A rash appears suddenly and/or covers large parts of the body.
  • You have sores that fail to heal within two weeks.
  • You have unexplained hair loss or bald patches.
  • You have changes in skin color, including lighter or darker patches.

Seeing a dermatologist is also advised if a condition is chronic and requires ongoing management, or if you’re treating a skin condition without success.

Dermatologists can also monitor your skin if you are at risk of diseases like skin cancer.

Need of a dermatologist ?

When a Dermatologist May Not Be Necessary

A primary care physician, family doctor, or other healthcare provider is more than capable of handling certain skin conditions.

According to the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP), these include:

  • Mild acne vulgaris: The most common form of acne
  • Minor rashes: Including pityriasis rosea and contact dermatitis
  • Minor fungal skin infections: Like athletes’ foot (Tinea pedis) and ringworm (Tinea corporis)
  • Rosacea: A chronic skin condition characterized by redness and/or bumps on the face
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: A skin condition that causes flaky scales mainly on the scalp
  • Warts: Including common warts (Verrucae vulgaris) and plantar warts (Verrucae plantaris)
Need of a dermatologist ?

When to See a Dermatologist

There are different healthcare providers you can see if you have a skin condition, including your primary care physician, a nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant. But, there are times when you are best served by seeing a dermatologist—a doctor who specializes in diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.

While dermatologists can treat uncomplicated skin conditions like acne or warts, they are crucial to the diagnosis and treatment of serious ones like scleroderma, cellulitis, and skin cancer. Knowing when seeing a dermatologist is a “must” can help you get to the bottom of a condition quicker and access the correct treatment faster.

This article can help decide whether it’s OK to see a primary care provider for a skin condition or if it’s time to book an immediate appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.

Woman scratching her skin