Every skin care enthusiast considers a range of questions throughout their skin health journey. For example, when should you see a Dermatologist, and why? You can find so many quality products designed to treat skin woes that you might wonder if visiting a Derm is even necessary.

Building a skin care routine for your skin type is crucial to maintaining healthy skin, but it has its limits. Consulting a skin care professional to diagnose and treat any skin concerns and help you reach your skin care goals is a key part of the bigger picture. Here's what you should know about booking your next (or first) appointment.

What Is a Dermatologist?

A Derm is a medical doctor who specializes in hair, nail, and skin health. Board-certified Derms have the highest form of certification, and they can accurately diagnose and treat the full range of skin conditions, from severe concerns like skin cancer to cosmetic issues like wrinkles.

It's a good idea to establish a relationship with a Derm just as you would with a primary physician. That way, you have someone to call if a skin concern arises. But knowing exactly when you should see a Derm can be a little murky. Here are six reasons to schedule an appointment.

6 Reasons to Visit Your Derm

You should see your dermatologist for an annual skin check, where a dermatologist will check your entire body for suspicious moles and marks.

1. It's Time for a Routine Skin Check

Annual skin checks help detect skin cancer in its early stages. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should see your Derm for a skin exam at least once a year. During the exam, which typically takes about 10 minutes, your Derm will inspect your entire body for any abnormalities. They'll check hard-to-spot areas, such as the scalp, back of the neck, back, butt, ears, and toes. In some cases, they'll use a small magnifying device called a dermatoscope to look at the surface and deeper layers of your skin. If a mole looks suspicious or worrisome, they'll take a biopsy for analysis. You can also perform skin checks at home between visits.

2. A Mole Changed in Size, Shape, or Color

You're more familiar with your body than anyone else. If you notice a new mole or see an existing mole change in size, shape, or color, it's time for a checkup. This could be a sign of skin cancer, but only a Derm can take a proper biopsy to know for sure.

3. You Have Severe or Stubborn Acne

When you break out, you can usually count on your trusty acne-fighting products to take care of it. But for deeper, painful acne that won't go away, a trip to the Derm's office can help. Severe acne, characterized by breakouts that extend deep into the skin, may need extra support. Your Derm can prescribe medications like antibiotics, birth control pills, low-dose prednisone, or spironolactone. They may also suggest a corticosteroid injection or perform extractions or incisions to remove a large cyst.

4. You Got a Bad Sunburn

Sunburn is the leading cause of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The Skin Cancer Foundation maintains that you can usually treat sunburn on your own, but see a Derm if you're experiencing any of the following:

  • Sunburn blisters
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Intense pain
  • Swelling
  • Oozing
  • Red, streaky skin

5. You Have a Rash or Irritation

Most rashes aren't life-threatening, but they can indicate underlying health concerns that require medical attention. Consult your Derm if your rash covers a large area of your body, you have a fever, or the rash starts to blister or hurt. You should also see your Derm if it shows signs of infection, such as swelling, oozing, or streaky skin.

6. You're Losing Hair

It's normal to shed hair—most people lose 50 to 100 strands a day. But if you notice more shedding than you're used to, call your Derm for their expert opinion. They'll be able to determine if you have alopecia areata (a rare disease that causes hair loss), which requires a treatment plan.

Supporting Skin Health One Visit at a Time

So, when should you see a Dermatologist? A good rule of thumb is to see your Derm at least once a year for a regular skin check. From there, make an appointment any time you have a concern about your skin, hair, or nails. By combining your daily skin care regimen with their expert knowledge when needed, you can ensure you're giving your skin the attention it deserves to stay healthy and beautiful.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.

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