When You Should See A Dermatologist For A Skin Problem

Skin is the largest organ, protecting the body against infection, extreme temperatures, and other environmental dangers (per MedlinePlus). In fact, the skin can reveal some surprising things about your health overall. The body's outer layers can signal lifestyle habits, underlying diseases, hormonal imbalances, and other health conditions, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

Skin issues can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Besides the occasional bug bite or sunburn, common skin disorders can include acne, hives, eczema, and psoriasis (per Healthline). To the untrained eye, it can be hard to differentiate benign bumps, spots, and rashes from serious ones. Even life-threatening skin cancer can be hard to detect when hidden in moles or under fingernails and toenails, according to Mayo Clinic.

Luckily, a medical professional can examine skin concerns to determine their causes and offer effective treatments. But when is it actually necessary to book an appointment, and when is it best to wait for it to pass?

Signs you need to see a dermatologist

Since the skin is the body's protective surface, it is vulnerable to wear and tear, as well as inflammation, bumps, and other skin conditions (per Cleveland Clinic). As Healthline points out, skin issues that have an obvious cause, like blisters from wearing stiff shoes, may go away on their own without needing treatment. However, those with no clear cause should be seen by a medical professional.

Minor skin issues, such as warts or small rashes, can usually be treated by a primary care physician, explains dermatologist Anthony Fernandez via Cleveland Clinic. However, skin problems that cover over 10% of the body or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever and aches, should be seen by a dermatologist immediately.

In addition, be sure to book an appointment for skin problems that won't go away as well. For example, an ulcer that lingers for more than a week should be treated by a dermatologist to prevent infection. Persistent acne, rashes, irritation, and hair loss also call for a trip to the derm's office, says The University of Utah Dermatology Services.

Keep in mind, experts can also be useful if you notice new or altering spots that are itching or bleeding (per the American Academy of Dermatology Association). Otherwise, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends making an appointment for a routine skin cancer screening once every year.