10 Reasons to See a Dermatologist

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Mary Elizabeth Dallas on August 8, 2021
  • smiling dermatologist with patient
    When You Need to See a Skin, Hair and Nail Specialist
    Blemishes and wrinkles are very common skin problems. But, there are thousands of conditions that can affect the skin. Some cause mild symptoms. Others can be serious and interfere with everyday life. Redness, itching, pain, rashes and pus are all signs you need to see a dermatologist. This doctor specializes in treating skin, hair and nails. Some treatments improve the look of your skin. Regular checkups for skin cancer can save your life. These 10 conditions merit a visit to the dermatologist.
  • Caucasian woman checking acne on face in mirror
    1. Acne
    Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. It causes various blemishes on the face. They include whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and deep cysts. These often form because oil glands in the skin produce too much of a substance called sebum. It clogs pores. Bacteria can also be the cause. Acne is common among teenagers, but you can get it at any age. Blemishes usually appear on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. Acne isn't life threatening, but it can be upsetting. Without proper treatment, it can also leave permanent scars. Treatment can include over-the-counter or prescription creams and gels, oral medication, chemical peels, and laser therapy.
  • Eczema skin on neck
    2. Eczema
    Eczema is an umbrella term for several chronic skin conditions that cause inflammation (swelling) of the skin. It can be very uncomfortable and emotionally distressing. It often causes red, swollen, dry and itchy skin. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. This usually affects babies and children. Kids may develop a rash on their cheeks and other parts of their body. The rash can leak fluid. Children may have trouble sleeping because of itchiness. Dermatologists can diagnose eczema with certain tests and a skin exam. Over-the-counter and prescription creams and other medicines can ease the condition. Proper skin care is important, too.
  • Caucasian woman checking scalp or hair in mirror
    3. Psoriasis
    Psoriasis stems from a problem with the immune system. This causes skin cells to form too quickly. They then pile up on the surface of the skin. These patches are called plaques. They can be thick and red and have silvery scales. They can be itchy or painful. They usually appear on the elbows, knees, legs, face and scalp. Sometimes they're on the bottom of the feet. They can show up on the fingernails, genitals or inside the mouth, but this is less common. Dermatologists can diagnose psoriasis by looking at a skin sample under a microscope. Psoriasis is a chronic condition. Creams can help soothe the skin and help it heal. Treatment also may include oral medication to suppress the overactive immune system.
  • middle age African American woman looking at skin in mirror
    4. Signs of Aging
    Skin changes with age. You may notice wrinkles, dryness or discolorations often called age spots. The sun's harmful ultraviolet rays and smoking can speed up and worsen these signs of aging. Wearing sunscreen can help prevent more sun damage. Not smoking and eating a healthy diet can also protect skin. But, if you're unhappy with your appearance, you may want to see a dermatologist. There are many treatments to help smooth wrinkles and tighten the skin. A dermatologist can also help improve the skin's texture and color. Treatments to help give the skin a more youthful look include chemical peels, laser therapy, Botox injections, and wrinkle fillers.
  • concerned woman checking mole on arm
    5. Skin Cancer
    Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It's also the easiest cancer to cure if diagnosed early. However, the most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma. It can be deadly. Several warning signs should prompt a dermatologist visit. They include skin growths that change in size, shape, color, thickness or texture. A key warning sign of melanoma is an irregular growth that's wider than a pencil eraser. Have a dermatologist check spots on your skin that continuously scab, crust, itch, hurt or bleed. Routine checkups are also important. A dermatologist should examine your skin at least once a year for signs of skin cancer.
  • Hairbrush
    6. Hair Loss
    Most people shed up to 100 hairs every day. However, bald patches or thinning hair could be signs of a problem. Pregnancy, stress, and a long list of health issues can lead to hair loss. It also can be an inherited condition. To find the cause of hair loss, a dermatologist may do blood tests and examine a sample of tissue from the scalp under a microscope. Medications, laser treatments, and surgical procedures are among the options that could help reduce the appearance of hair loss or restore growth.
  • closeup of Caucasian woman's serious face
    7. Rosacea
    Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can also affect the eyes. People with rosacea may look flushed. Redness usually appears on the nose, cheeks and chin. It might extend to the ears and chest, too. Sometimes, skin bumps and swelling occur. In severe cases, the skin gets thicker. Women and people with light skin have a higher risk of developing rosacea. Doctors aren't sure what causes rosacea. It may occur when blood vessels expand too quickly. This could be because of heat, exercise, sunlight, wind, cold, spicy foods, alcohol or stress. These factors also may make symptoms worse. There's no cure for rosacea. However, medication, laser therapy and lifestyle changes can help control symptoms.
  • woman sitting and wearing skirt and tights placing hand on knee and leg
    8. Varicose and Spider Veins
    Varicose veins are swollen, twisted and painful veins that form when valves in the veins become weak or damaged. Varicose veins often look bulging or raised and usually develop on the legs. They can increase your risk of blood clots and skin sores. The likelihood of having varicose veins increases with age, excess weight, and a sedentary lifestyle. Spider veins often look like a network of thin red or blue lines on the skin. They're usually more of a cosmetic issue than a serious health threat. A backup of blood, hormonal changes, sun exposure, or injury can lead to spider veins. Treatment depends on the type of vein problem. It may include wearing support stockings, taking medicine, and making some lifestyle changes. Dermatologists also can inject a chemical into a problem vein to make it disappear. Laser treatment and surgery are other options.
  • Caucasian woman sitting in chair removing high heel and rubbing foot
    9. Infection
    Skin infections caused by yeast, fungus, viruses or bacteria need treatment from a dermatologist. Fungus can lead to nagging and itchy problems, like athlete's foot. Viruses can cause warts and herpes. Bacterial infections of the skin, such as cellulitis, can become serious or even deadly if not treated with antibiotics. Parasites, like lice and mites, can also cause contagious, itchy skin conditions. A dermatologist can diagnose the source of the infection and determine how best to treat it.
  • woman holding rash on arm
    10. Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac
    Poison ivy, oak and sumac are plants that contain an oily allergen called urushiol. Contact causes an itchy, blistering rash. Symptoms can take up to 72 hours to appear after contact. Many people think these rashes are contagious, but they're not. The rash usually goes away after 1 to 3 weeks. Some people have a serious reaction that requires treatment. Sometimes, continuous scratching and open blisters can lead to a more serious bacterial infection. Signs of this include streaks or lines on the skin. Dermatologists can treat serious cases of poison ivy, oak or sumac with prescription creams or oral medications.
10 Reasons to See a Dermatologist
  1. What Is a Dermatologist? American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/about-dermatology/what-is-a-dermatologist
  2. Acne Fact Sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/acne.html#a
  3. Acne. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/acne
  4. Acne: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/acne/diagnosis-treatment
  5. Eczema. Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/eczema.html
  6. Atopic dermatitis: Signs and symptoms. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/atopic-dermatitis/signs-symptom...
  7. Hair loss: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/hair-loss/diagnosis-treatment
  8. Atopic dermatitis: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/atopic-dermatitis/diagnosis-tre...
  9. What Is Psoriasis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/psoriasis/psoriasis_ff.asp#b
  10. Skin Aging. Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skinaging.html
  11. What causes our skin to age? American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/every-stage-of-life/adult-skin/what-causes-...
  12. Prevention Guidelines. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines
  13. If You Can Spot It, You Can Spot It. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/if-you-can-spot-it-you-can-stop-it
  14. Hair Loss. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/hair-loss
  15. What Is Rosacea? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/rosacea/rosacea_ff.asp
  16. Melanoma. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma
  17. Varicose veins and spider veins fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/varicose-spider-veins.html#A
  18. Skin Infections. Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skininfections.html
  19. Poison ivy: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/poison-ivy/diagnosis-treatment
  20. Poison ivy: Signs and symptoms. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/poison-ivy/signs-symptoms
  21. Poison ivy: Who gets and causes. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/poison-ivy/who-gets-causes
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Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 8
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.