Healthskin Care Dermatology

A large part of maintaining healthy, young skin lies in your own hands. In addition to regularly washing and moisturizing your skin, you also need to protect it from the sun, eat a healthy diet and limit (or avoid altogether) alcohol consumption and smoking. However, at times, you can develop skin problems like acne or psoriasis that may require you to seek expert medical attention.

Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating any disease or condition related to the skin, hair and nails. Although some skin problems, like the occasional bout of dry skin, may clear up on their own, if you experience persistent skin problems, seeing a dermatologist is essential to getting the treatment you need.

Skin Conditions Dermatologists Can Treat

Here is a list of the types of skin conditions that dermatologists can treat:

  • acne
  • birth marks
  • cold sores
  • eczema
  • fungal skin infections
  • lice
  • psoriasis
  • ringworm
  • scars and stretch marks
  • skin cancers
  • sun spots
  • warts
  • wrinkles.

How Dermatologists Diagnose Skin Problems

On your first visit, your dermatologist will ask you a series of questions about your condition and concerns as he tries to diagnose your skin problem. Along with asking you about your personal and family medical history of skin conditions, your dermatologist will likely ask you some of the following questions:

  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Have you ever been treated for a skin condition before?
  • How long have you experienced symptoms?
  • What are the exact symptoms that you are experiencing?
  • What is your daily skin care regimen? (This question includes the frequency with which you wash and moisturize your skin, as well as the types of products you use.)
  • What is your skin type? (If you are unsure, your dermatologist will ask you more specific questions to help you identify what type of skin you have.)

Depending on your answers to these questions, dermatologists will:

  • perform a biopsy to test for malignant cells which could indicate skin cancer
  • perform a patch test to diagnose skin allergies
  • take blood samples to see if some underlying medical condition is causing your skin problems.
  • take tissue samples to test for bacterial or fungal infections.

Common Treatments Dermatologists Administer

Once your dermatologist has properly diagnoses your skin condition, he will be able to inform you of your specific treatment options. Treatments for various skin problems vary widely, depending on the type of skin condition you have and the severity of its presence.

Some of the common treatments dermatologists administer or recommend to cure or relieve skin conditions include:

  • antibiotics, for bacterial skin infections
  • antiviral medication, for viral skin infections
  • chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, for skin cancers
  • medicated moisturizers, for severely dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
  • microdermabrasion, for sun spots and prematurely aged skin
  • phototherapy treatments, for psoriasis and cold sores
  • surgery, for skin cancers
  • topical creams, for scars, acne and a variety of other skin problems.

This is a fairly basic list. Your individual case will determine the necessary course of treatment.

As you are discussing treatment options with your dermatologist, be sure to ask about any associated side effects. Depending on your treatment regimen, side effects can range from being mild to severe. Consider the pros and cons of the treatment and the side effects when deciding between different treatment options.

How to Choose a Dermatologist

While your insurance provider may limit the options you have, it’s a good idea to visit a few different dermatologists as you choose the one who will provide you ideal care. Here are some tips for finding a dermatologist that can provide you with the best care possible:

  • Ask the dermatologist about his experience with your particular condition. Because there are so many different types of skin conditions, dermatologists tend to specialize in distinct areas. For example, while one dermatologist may specialize in treating skin cancers, another will focus on treating acne.
  • Check to see what accreditations the dermatologist has.
  • Choose a dermatologist who makes you feel comfortable. Because you may have to reveal potentially embarrassing information to this doctor, make sure that you are at ease being completely honest with the dermatologist.
  • Opt for a dermatologist that is located close to you. Distance is one of the main reasons people tend to miss important doctor’s appointments. Because you likely have to make multiple visits to the dermatologist’s office, choose one that is based close to where you live and/or work.

Resources

StateUniversity.com (n.d.). Dermatologist Job Description. Retrieved November 2, 2007 from the StateUniversity Web site: http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/473/Dermatologist.html.

WebMD (n.d.). Diagnosing Skin Problems. Retrieved November 2, 2007 from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/diagnosing-skin-problems.