You might think of seeing a skin specialist for cosmetic procedures, to freshen skin or to get rid of lines. But do you recognize the signs of problems that need the attention of a skin doctor?
Here are some of the most common skin conditions and their warning signs.
1. Your mole has changed
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. With millions of new cases diagnosed each year, report any suspicious new moles or a change in an existing mole. Do a monthly visual check of your skin using mirrors for hard-to-see areas using the “A-B-C-D-E” test. A mole is worrisome if it:
- Is Asymmetrical
- Has a Border with ragged edges
- Has a Color that’s uneven
- Has a Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- Is Elevated or raised
- Normal: Freckle, sun or age spot
- Not Normal: Persistent, non-healing lesion, especially on sun-exposed areas, may be a sign of a skin cancer
2. Acne that’s hard to treat
Another common — and persistent — skin problem is acne, with its clogged pores and pus-filled pimples. Breakouts can affect people well into their adult years.
For acne that doesn’t improve with drugstore products, see a dermatologist not only to clear up skin, but also to avoid permanent scars. Acne may not harmlessly just run its course.
- Normal: Few, small inflammatory bumps or papules throughout adolescence and young adulthood
- Not Normal: Feeling like most days you have acne bumps or blemishes and not being able to control them with over-the-counter options
3. Consistent skin irritation
Dry skin can be a result of the weather, sensitivity to skincare products, or even genetics. However, it could also be a result of a chronic skin condition.
Constant redness anywhere on the face can be a sign of rosacea. You might see thin blood vessels and pimples but not the blackheads of acne. A telltale clue that this is not acne: Rosacea won’t respond to acne treatments.
- Normal: Mild redness and broken vessels favoring the cheeks and mid-face area
- Not Normal: Red, sensitive, painful skin, sometimes combined with acne-type breakouts
4. Your rash won’t go away
Any persistent rash should be evaluated. It could be eczema with its dry, itchy patches, or the more serious psoriasis with thick plaques of silvery scales. It could even be lupus, an autoimmune disease that can cause a sunburn-like effect or thick scaly patches on the face.
A dermatologist can help you get some answers. They can also prescribe you medications or recommend another form of treatment.
- Normal: Normal skin
- Not Normal: Circular rash with raised borders
- Normal: People with sensitive skin may have a few mild itchy patches on the skin that resolve easily
- Not Normal: Itchy patches that start to affect quality of life and sleep and don’t respond easily to over-the-counter hydrocortisones
5. Acne scars
Have a less-than-desirable scar that you’d like to get rid of? A dermatologist can help with that. Medical techniques such as