How to Know When You Should Visit Your Dermatologist

Dermatologists take care of skin, hair and nails. They detect and treat diseases and repair cosmetic defects of the skin. When should people see a dermatologist instead of treating a condition themselves or seeking help from their family physician? Below are some conditions they generally require a dermatologist’s expertise:

A Suspicious Mole

Melanoma or skin cancer is a serious condition that can be fatal. Fortunately, if it is caught early, melanoma can be successfully treated. Suspicious moles are often the first visible sign of melanoma. But what constitutes a suspicious mole? Any mole that is larger than a pencil eraser, has a rough surface, is multicolored, or has an irregular, ill-defined border should be examined by a dermatologist. Also, a mole that changes in any way qualifies as suspicious. Anyone who detects a suspicious mole should see a dermatologist immediately.

Skin Cancer Risks

Even people who do not have a suspicious mole may need to visit a dermatologist regularly. Anyone who has previously had skin cancer, detects new lumps, grows any new moles, or has new skin discoloration needs to be examined by a dermatologist periodically. People who have close relatives who have had melanoma have an elevated risk for skin cancer and also need to make regular visits to their dermatologist. Another group of people at risk for melanoma, even if they have none of the risk factors discussed above, are people with fair skin. Fair-skinned people need to see their dermatologist annually, too.


People and adolescents with severe acne should see their dermatologist for assessment and treatment. For some people, acne is an annoying but mild condition that can be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, for many people, acne is a serious medical condition that requires more advanced therapies available only from a dermatologist. Failing to seek treatment for serious acne can result in facial scarring or infection. Fortunately, a dermatologist can develop…

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